Reminder on Great Australian Bight Closure
Boaties are reminded that the annual closure of conservation zones in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park has begun, marking the start of the whale season.
Park manager Dirk Holman said the park’s Restricted Access Zone and Marine Mammal Protection Zone were both off-limits to boats from 1 May to 31 October.
“The Head of the Bight is one of three large, established aggregation areas for southern right whales in Australia,” Mr Holman said.
“Up to three-quarters of the Australian population aggregates in the region between Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia and Ceduna, and between 25 and 55 calves are born at the Head of the Bight each season.
“It is absolutely vital that all boats, including commercial fishers, stay out of these zones for the next six months. Whales are at risk of propeller strike, becoming entangled in nets or ropes, or becoming distressed by boats that come too close. A frightened calf could become permanently separated from its mother, which would be fatal.”
Averaging about 15m in length and weighing up to 80 tonnes, the southern right whale is one of the most common whale species seen in Australia’s coastal waters as the population recovers following an international whaling moratorium in the mid-1980s.
“May to October is a fantastic time to visit the purpose-built viewing platform on the cliffs at Head of the Bight,” Mr Holman said.
“At the height of the season we can see up to 100 whales in the water below. Combine that with the stunning, sheer cliffs and it truly is a magic sight. This is coastal wilderness at its absolute best.”
The Great Australian Bight Marine Park was established by the Commonwealth and South Australian governments to protect the whales. The park also protects Australian sea lions, migratory sharks and coastal raptors such as the white-bellied sea eagle, as well as a number of unique plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world.