AN increase of whales at Port Fairy this season has prompted a search for more volunteer spotters next year.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has observed a change in migration habits, with the mammals shifting destination from Warrnambool to waters further along the coast.
Senior biodiversity officer Mandy Watson will begin working with the Port Fairy Visitor Information Centre to expand its whale-watching program and cater to the change in trends.
People visiting Port Fairy and Portland have been privy to views of 14 different southern right whales socialising and mating since the start of the season.
“This year it was the waters off Port Fairy and Portland that played host to an unusually large number of whales for the area,” Ms Watson said. “The majority of whales have been gathered in the bay at Port Fairy, with up to 12 seen on any given day.
“Small numbers have been seen almost daily around Portland.”
Port Fairy Visitor Information Centre has been in demand for updates on whale activity, with staff erecting a flag on the Village Green and posting on the centre’s Facebook page in response to daily sightings.
Four were spotted near the buoy at East Beach yesterday, with weekend tourism officer Ann Wilson saying she had noticed a rise in the number of people asking about whales during her shifts.
“I’ve had at least 15 to 20 people call today,” she told The Standard.
“They’re all ringing to see if the whales are here before they arrive.
“Many of them are coming from Hamilton or Ararat.
“We don’t want them to be disappointed when they get here.”
Weekday tourism officer Sharon Parker said it would be beneficial for Port Fairy to have a volunteer whale-watching base, rather than the DSE sending volunteers to verify whale locations once sightings were reported.
Logans Beach whale nursery has been consistently scarce of whale activity this season, with a mother and calf sighting breaking the drought last week.