Whales annual migration is underway off Australia's east coast

Whales captured off Port Macquarie on June 27. Photo: Jodie Lowe's Marine Animal Photography
Whales captured off Port Macquarie on June 27. Photo: Jodie Lowe's Marine Animal Photography

The most popular whale in the business might have been laying low but the whale population is surging up the east coast of Australia on its annual migration.

Well, that's the early indications from the annual whale migration census at least.

The Sydney lockdown affected the count between the Central Coast and Wollongong, meaning this year's numbers could be on the low side, but volunteers are hopeful this year's numbers will bring good news for our whale population.

A census relies heavily on the participation of volunteers and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, wildlife group ORCCA's vice-president Jools Farrell explained.

An endangered southern right whale was spotted in Wallis Lake this week.

"Because of the lockdown ... we have had to rely on members of the public who were out walking and exercising to send in their numbers," Ms Farrell said.

But prime whale-watching hotspots along the coast produced strong numbers.

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Sugarloaf Point near Forster has so far recorded the highest on the NSW Mid North Coast, with 301 whale sightings on June 27.

"South West Rocks recorded 74 and Hat Head was one of the highest with 285 sightings," Ms Farrell said. "Tacking Point at Port Macquarie, according to the numbers we have received, recorded 227 on the day.

"These numbers could rise further when we get all of the information back from members of the public."

This was the 22nd annual whale census, which is held on the last weekend in June each year.

Footage of Migaloo in 2018. Shot by Lisa Wells who was out with Tangalooma Island Resort Whale Watch Cruise. Via Migaloo the White Whale Facebook page.

But where's Migaloo?

ORRCA volunteers counted 4851 humpback whales off the coast of Port Macquarie during June.

"There are a lot of whales travelling past at the moment and we've noticed that they are closer to shore than usual which means we're seeing more of them. It's been a really good season so far," Ms Farrell said.

The one creature of the deep that everyone is keen to spot, Migaloo, is proving to be elusive this year.

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"There was a report that someone saw Migaloo off Port Macquarie earlier this month, but at this stage there have been no confirmed sightings of him," she said.

"He usually heads north during June or July so he might not have gone past yet."

Migaloo in Port Macquarie on July 29, 2019. Photo: Jodie Lowe's Marine Animal Photography.

Migaloo in Port Macquarie on July 29, 2019. Photo: Jodie Lowe's Marine Animal Photography.

If you see a whale in distress, call ORRCA's 24/7 rescue number. It is on 02 9415 3333.

"We have been called to eleven entangled whales this migration season," Ms Farrell said.

"We would rather have a false alarm than a whale be left in distress, so we encourage people to call our rescue number if they see a whale that's distressed."

This story Whales: the mammals of the deep are on the move first appeared on Port Macquarie News.