Management plan released for WA’s whale interaction industry

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Humpback whales demonstrate their prowess of the coast of Western Australia close to Thevenard Island off Exmouth.
Camera IconHumpback whales demonstrate their prowess of the coast of Western Australia close to Thevenard Island off Exmouth. Credit: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

The WA Government has released a management plan for humpback whales along the Ningaloo coast and as far as Exmouth.

The management program was designed to allow transition to a licensed industry for people to interact with humpback whales in the water, after a trial program was held in Ningaloo Marine Park and the Muiron Islands Marine Management Area between 2016 and 2020.

It was intended to minimise impacts to humpbacks migrating north from Antarctica to breed, minimise risks to people swimming with the whales, and create a sustainable industry using research and monitoring.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said swimming with humpbacks was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” and the Ningaloo coast was the only place in WA this could be done with a licensed operator.

He said visitors could also spot whale sharks, manta rays, dugong and turtles.

Hazel Walgar, who is involved in managing the marine park, said the whales come north for the winter rains and to feast on fish and shellfish and give birth.

She said around September the humpbacks would start heading south again to avoid the heat.

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