Researchers find Sydney whales unfazed by whale watching

Jan 13, 2012

A team of researchers from Macquarie University and Taronga Zoo has just released the results of a study into the effects of whale watching on the behavior of migrating humpback whales.

The two-year study of passing the Sydney area during their northern migration found that in the presence of vessels, the whales were more likely to remain on or around the surface than when no vessels were around.

“The study indicates that northerly migrating whales off Sydney are more likely to remain on the surface breathing when vessels are around than they are to take some form of avoidance,” says researcher Maryrose Gulesserian from Macquarie University. 

The largest of the Southern Hemisphere humpback whale stock (E1), the population uses the east coast of Australia as a migratory corridor to travel between feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean and breeding grounds in northeast Queensland and the south-west Pacific Ocean.

Having been decimated in numbers due to whaling during the mid 20th century, the population is now recovering at close to the maximum rate of growth. The increasing abundance of whales passing within sight of land has seen a growing whale-watching industry over the past decade. In 2008 alone, over 25,000 people boarded dedicated in Sydney for the purpose of whale watching

The results of the study are positive; as with the growth in the whale-watching industry around Sydney, concerns have been raised as to the impact it is having on the migratory behaviour of the whales.

“From this study it appears that for this population at least, adult humpback are relatively robust to disturbance by whale watching,” says Gulesserian.

Explore further: Deep sea fish eyesight similar to human vision

Provided by Macquarie University

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia expecting massive whale watching season

Jun 01, 2011

Australia marked the start of its whale-watching season Wednesday with predictions that some 4,000 of the giant animals will be spotted as they make their way along the coast during winter.

Levy not law will save the whales

Sep 06, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Conservationists would save more whales from the harpoon if the whale-watching public and industry were willing to pay a levy that could be used to persuade those countries currently engaged in whaling to ...

Whales show the 'right' stuff for recovery

Jul 27, 2011

As record numbers of whales pass New South Wales during the annual northern migration, scientists and conservationists are watching for southern right whales particularly carefully, following new research ...

Humpback whale migration as straight as an arrow

Apr 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Over the last eight years, researchers from the University of Canterbury have been tracking 16 radio-tagged humpback whales through their migratory paths and learned that these whales follow ...

Whales off Calif. coast draw crowds, warning

Nov 02, 2011

(AP) -- The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday monitored the waters off Santa Cruz, where a pod of whales has settled unusually close to shore drawing crowds and threatening the safety of kayakers and other boaters ...

Recommended for you

Male sex organ distinguishes 30 millipede species

3 hours ago

The unique shapes of male sex organs have helped describe thirty new millipede species from the Great Western Woodlands in the Goldfields, the largest area of relatively undisturbed Mediterranean climate ...

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

Nov 26, 2014

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ThanderMAX
not rated yet Jan 13, 2012
Good news
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (12) Jan 16, 2012
We can only hope, hope that surface craft presence is not a stressor relieved by keeping an eye on.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.