Boat users are being reminded to keep their distances from migrating whales in the Upper Spencer Gulf after a boat was spotted following a whale too closely at Point Lowly.
Local Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula Officer Kate Brocklehurst said under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, anyone found guilty of harassing a marine mammal faced fines or up to $100,000 or two years’ gaol.
“We are investigating reports that a boat moved right alongside a whale at Point Lowly, which can cause stress for the whale and is also dangerous for the boat’s occupants,” Kate said.
“If you are in a boat, you must not move closer than 100m to a whale or 300m if the whale has a calf or shows signs of disturbance. Jet skis are not permitted within 300m of any marine mammal.
“If you are in control of a vessel, it is your responsibility to maintain legal approach distances.”
Kate said if a whale moved within 300m of a vessel, then the person in control should maintain the vessel’s position or move slowly away.
“We are very lucky to having whales on our doorstep, but we must realise these animals are rare, sensitive to interference and must be given the space they need,” she said.
“We see whales here in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park quite often during the whale season and we encourage people to enjoy the spectacle legally.
“The regulations are in place for the protection and conservation of these special animals, but also for your safety.”
Whale season in South Australia runs from June to October.
Information flyer showing distances here.
Anyone wishing to report a distressed whale or an incident involving a marine mammal within waters / on the coast of Eyre Peninsula are encouraged to call either the Western Eyre Peninsula Duty Ranger on 8626 1108 or the Eastern and Southern Eyre Peninsula Duty Ranger on 8688 3223.