Whales now on the move

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
Humpback whales migrate annually from Antarctica to the Kimberley.
Camera IconHumpback whales migrate annually from Antarctica to the Kimberley. Credit: Supplied

The annual northern migration of humpback whales from Antarctica to their Kimberley calving grounds has started.

Sightings of the majestic creatures have already been reported from Albany to Exmouth.

Thousands of the mammals make the 13,000km round-trip from Antarctica to warmer waters in WA’s north between May and late November.

The humpback migration is one of the longest whale-watching seasons in the world attracting thousands of visitors to the coast, providing a boost to whale tour operators as well as the regional economy.

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Broome Whale Watching owner Cameron Birch said the animals were important to the town and its economy with full-time operators running throughout the season.

Mr Birch said the Kimberley provided the best viewing for people looking to experience the giants of the ocean.

“When they get to us in the Kimberley, the whales have pretty well finished their northern migration so people here get to see the very best interaction they have to offer,” he said.

“While they are travelling along the coast, whales are on a mission to get here.

“But when they arrive, they are pretty well on summer holidays.

“There is nowhere better to experience these magnificent creatures.”

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said humpbacks had gone from the brink of extinction in the 1960s because of hunting by commercial whalers, to an estimated 35,000 that travel the WA coastline today.

“These marine giants can sometimes be seen from the shoreline as they move from the south coast to calving grounds in the Kimberley and back again, providing whale watchers with memorable glimpses along the way,” he said.

“Seeing whales interacting in their natural environment is, for many, a once in a lifetime opportunity and I encourage Western Australians to view this tremendous marine spectacle that’s taking place at our doorstep.”

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said natural experiences such as whale watching promoted tourism because they help draw visitors to regional areas and support local jobs through money spent during their stay.

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