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Whale season in full swing

Killer whale near Busselton
Killer whale near Busselton David Vinciguerra

The whale season has had an eventful start this year with numerous reports of whale sightings off the Western Australian coast including a confirmed report of a killer whale close to shore at Geographe Bay – a rare event.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife has also received recent reports of a deceased humpback whale calf, an entangled whale trailing ropes and floats off Port Denison and another whale that had severe skin lesions.

Staff have also monitored a juvenile humpback whale off Burns Beach north of Perth, which was seen lingering in the area for a couple of days but which showed no obvious signs of injury.

Senior marine wildlife officer Doug Coughran said whale sightings off Perth would continue to increase in the coming months as more than 30,000 humpback whales travelled from Antarctic waters to calving grounds in the Kimberley.

“The whale season has again started earlier than expected and indications are that we are in for another busy year,” he said.

“The killer whale calf observed near Busselton was swimming close to the shore and away from its pod, which was very unusual for this highly social species.

“The young whale was closely monitored but eventually moved out to deeper water without the need for Parks and Wildlife staff to intervene.

“While killer whales and humpback whales don’t unusually swim close to the shoreline unless their health is compromised, it is normal behaviour for southern right whales to swim close to breakers to rest and give birth in the shallows, especially on the south coast.”

Last year, Parks and Wildlife recorded 14 whale entanglements, which was a decrease on the previous year when 12 humpback whale carcasses were reported, and a further 33 whale incidents required either intervention or assistance.

“In relation to whale entanglements, the department is continuing to work collaboratively with other agencies and the fishing industry to investigate new measures to minimise the occurrence of these incidents along the coast,” Mr Coughran said.

To report a sick, injured or entangled whale contact the department’s Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055. For more information about whales visit www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/marine/marine-wildlife/64-whales-and-dolphins

Media contact: Parks and Wildlife Media 9219 9999

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Twitter: @WAPARKSWILDLIFE

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 June 2015 11:04