South Australia’s annual whale migration is in full swing and water users are reminded to keep their distance from these giants of the deep.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) Animal Welfare Manager Deb Kelly said DEWNR has received reports of boaties and paddle boarders getting a little too close to whales off the coast of the Fleurieu and Eyre Peninsulas.
“High-powered boats and jet-skis are not allowed closer than 300 metres to a whale, and paddle boarders and other conventional vessels must not come closer than 100 metres,” Dr Kelly said.
“Many of us dream of a close encounter with whales or dolphins, but there are rules in place for the animal’s safety and our own.
“The rules apply to all water users, including people in high-powered vessels, in cabin cruisers, yachts and small vessels such as tinnies and kayaks, and even to surfers and swimmers.
“Whales are wild animals that are not used to humans, so moving too close can distress them or even result in an injury, especially if their young are present.
“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.
“If you see a whale, move away from it until you are at the legal distance.
“If you are in a vessel with an engine, cut the motor and wait.
“If you’re lucky, you may be treated to a wonderful experience on the animal’s own terms.”
Under the National Parks and Wildlife Act the maximum fine for getting too close to a marine mammal is $100,000.
For more information visit the National Parks website and for whale watching tips read DEWNR’s Good Living blog.