Too close whale watchers investigated

There was eight alleged instances of boaters and aircrafts getting too close to whales during the breeding season.

Operation Chester was conducted  to protect Southern Right and other whale species.   

The compliance operation involved Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning patrols monitoring the activities of vessels and aircraft, and speaking to operators about keeping the required safe distances from whales. 

Eight alleged incidents of non-compliance were investigated, and a number of people were formally interviewed by DELWP Wildlife Officers.

DELWP has advised further action was being taken in some cases. 

The record season attracted many avid wildlife photographers who contributed photos and sightings data to DELWP’s photo-ID database of Southern Right Whales. 

All sightings data will assist with long-term monitoring of this species, and will be added to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas. 

DELWP Barwon South West Senior Biodiversity Officer Mandy Watson said the whales had now left the region, but it had been a positive season. 

“It has been a fantastic breeding season for Southern Right Whales along the south-west coast,” she said. 

“We’re hopeful that the bumper season we’ve had this year is part of a longer-term trend. 

“It’s also been a strong season for Humpback Whales, with large numbers seen moving through waters on their northward and southward migrations.” 

DELWP records confirmed sightings of the critically endangered species when they visit the coast from May to October every year.