THE whale-watching season has officially arrived along the south-west coast with various confirmed sightings between Portland and Warrnambool.
Since last weekend, two southern right whales and a humpback whale have been spotted at Portland, while a humpback whale has been seen at Port Fairy and a southern right whale was confirmed at Warrnambool’s Logans Beach.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has also received unconfirmed reports of whales at Port Fairy and Killarney.
Premier Denis Napthine yesterday said the sightings were a reminder to local boat operators and other water craft users that the whale exclusion zone starts tomorrow.
Dr Napthine said Warr-nambool was incredibly fortunate to host many families of whales in its waters, but there was a responsibility to do the right thing by marine life.
The critically endangered southern right whale migrates to the southern Australian coastline from the subantarctic waters in winter to mate, give birth and raise calves.
Logans Beach is the only area on the Victorian coast where southern right whales regularly come to nurse their young, Dr Napthine said.
“Victorians are extremely lucky to be able to see these beautiful creatures right on Warrnambool’s doorstep, but we also need to make sure they are given their space,” Dr Napthine said.
The whale exclusion zone limits disturbances to whales and their calves and applies from June 1 until October 31.
This zone applies to all vessels, including personal watercraft such as kayaks and jet skis.
The zone is a defined offshore area and is described on signs at Logans Beach, boat ramps and in the Hopkins River area.
The penalty for illegally entering the exclusion zone in a vessel is a maximum fine of $2887 under the Wildlife (Marine Mammals) Regulations 2009.