IMPORTANT
Whale Watching GUIDELINES

whale tail bullet icon Personal watercraft (such as jet skis) must keep a distance of 300 metres from any marine mammal (whales, dolphins, seals etc) in all coastal waters and are prohibited from launching and must not operate a PWC within the Victor Harbor Restriction Zone during whale season.

whale tail bullet icon Vessels within the Encounter Bay Restricted Area must not get within 300 metres of a whale.

whale tail bullet icon Boats outside the Encounter Bay Restriction Area must keep a distance of 100 metres from a whale and 50 metres from other marine mammals (dolphins, seals etc).

whale tail bullet icon If a whale is showing signs of distress or has a calf, vessels must not get closer than 300 metres.

whale tail bullet icon If a person unexpectedly finds themselves too close to a whale they should either cut their motor or move away from the whale at a slow 'no wake' speed.

Regulations

For current regulations, please refer to ...

National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals— Marine Mammals) Regulations 2010 Act (PDF 370 KB)

and ...

Australian National Guidelines for Whale Watching

For more information on regulations contact the National Parks & Wildlife SA Victor Harbor office 08 8552 3677.

Enjoy Whale watching –
From a Distance

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is reminding the general public to keep a safe distance when observing whales this season.

 

Crowd watching mother and calf 100m from shore at Bashams Beach. Crowd watching mother and calf 100m from shore at Bashams Beach.

DENR animal welfare manager, Deborah Kelly, describes whale watching as a popular pastime and offers safety tips on how to best enjoy this special time of year.

  • People are encouraged to take part in whale watching, but are reminded to observe these animals from a distance so they remain relaxed in their environment.
  • Whales may be disturbed by humans or vessels, such as boats, surfboards or aircraft, and this can be stressful for the animal.
  • We want to ensure that whales return to our waters each year, so it is important that we provide them with a secure and safe environment.
  • If conducted responsibly, water based activities such as fishing and surfing can continue to take place in areas where whales are visiting.
  • This means respecting their space and avoid getting too close to any whales that are present.
  • If a person unexpectedly finds themself too close to a whale they should either cut their motor or move away from the whale.
  • When people are using the water during the whale season they need to have a greater awareness of their surroundings. This is for their own safety along with the wellbeing of the whales.
  • Signs that a whale is stressed include frequent diving, spending a longer time below the surface, increasing their speed, repeatedly changing directions and frequent water spurts and tail slaps.
  • From our experience, most people do the right thing to prevent whales from being harassed or chased by people.
  • Even if you are on the water for another purpose, such as fishing, please give whales space.

Whale Watching Code

The walking trail above Petrel Cove has numerous vantage points. The walking trail above Petrel Cove has numerous vantage points.

To make sure you minimise your impact when watching whales from land, follow the Environmental Code for Whale Watchers:

  • Keep to formed pathways, remain inside lookout areas, obey signs and take care close to cliff edges.
  • Be sure not to damage vegetation, especially on dunes.
  • Don’t throw anything in the water; dispose of rubbish carefully.
  • Respect access considerations for Aboriginal land, National Parks and private property.
  • Remain quiet when whales are close to shore. Loud, unexpected noises may alarm them.

Why Follow the Code & Regulations?

The long-term consequences of disturbing whales are not yet well understood, but could be significant. Potential problems are:

  • displacement from preferred breeding or calving sites;
  • disruption of nursing and mating;
  • stress; injury; and
  • increased mortality.

Southern Right whales have returned to this coast following years of exploitation and appear to be recovering. The protection of calving and winter aggregation areas is critical for the species.

Your assistance in this protection is important, and following these codes and regulations will contribute to the well being of these magnificent whales. Both state and federal laws protect whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Southern Right whales are an endangered species and you may be heavily fined if you breach the laws.

Further information:
National Parks & Wildlife SA Victor Harbor Office 8552 3677.

Whale watchers gathering on the cliffs above King's Beach.Whale watchers gathering on the cliffs above King's Beach.


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