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Closure for whale migration and breeding

News release
25 April 2016

Boaties are reminded that the Restricted Access Zone (State waters) and Marine Mammal Protection Zone (Commonwealth waters) within the Great Australian Bight Marine Reserve will be under temporary closure and off-limits to boats from 1 May until 31 October 2016.

This temporary closure ensures a safe passage for Southern Right Whales as they make their way north to their breeding areas, and to allow the animals to rest undisturbed whilst nursing their young.

Tim Hall from Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula explains that the whale watching spectacular really starts to gear up as we approach July and August. “The first whale sighting for the season is however anticipated to happen any day now.

“Whales arrive at the Head of the Bight to mate, give birth and nurse their young calves in the relatively shallow and protected waters the temp closure site provides.

“Females do not feed while they are at the area, so it is important they remain undisturbed to nurse and raise their young calves with minimal energy expenditure.

“Whales are thought to breed once every three years, therefore we see different breeding groups over a three year cycle.

“Marine life is predictably unpredictable so we simply can’t accurately predict what numbers we will have the Head of the Bight this year, however the upcoming season numbers may be a lower this year.

“Regardless of the numbers, the Head of the Bight visitors are usually treated to a spectacular sight as the whales begin to appear in the waters directly below the viewing platforms at the Whale Watching Centre.

“Scenic flights, which offer a unique view of the whales, as well as the spectacular cliffs, are also available.

The temp closure aggregation site at the Head of the Bight is encompassed by the State Far West Coast Marine Park, and the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight Marine Reserve which are managed and funded in a joint agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments.

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.

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Communications and Engagement Officer

8688 31111