May – December
Humpback and Southern right whales have begun their long northward migration from polar waters and will be sighted regularly off the Tasmanian coast between May and December each year.
Sightings of humpback and Southern right whales are increasing in Tasmania, including in areas with high vessel traffic such as the Derwent and Tamar Rivers and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Most humpback whales will simply be passing through on their way to give birth in the warm waters of northern Australia before returning from September; however a number of juvenile humpbacks remained in the Derwent River/Storm Bay area for several months in recent years. A proportion of Southern right whales are expected to give birth in Tasmanian waters and remain here throughout the season.
The whale migration season offers a chance for a glimpse of these spectacular creatures but it is important that boat operators are aware of guidelines in place to protect public safety as well as the welfare of the animals.
The guidelines include:
• Vessels moving at slow speed and with no wake (i.e. Less than 8 knots) should not approach any closer than 100 m to a whale;
• Vessels under steam should not approach any closer than 300 m;
• Withdraw immediately if the whale shows any kind of disturbance;
• Do not approach from the rear of the animal.
More detailed information regarding appropriate whale viewing can be found at Whale & Dolphin Viewing Guidelines.
Boat operators are urged to report any sightings of whales in Tasmanian waters to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment’s 24hr Whale Hotline on 0427 WHALES (0427 942 537) or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/whalestas). Recording the time and location of these sightings enables the Department to find out more about the migratory behaviour of these amazing species.