Bass Coast embraces whale watching


WHALES have always attracted tourists to Bass Coast and now they will be much easier to spot.

A series of signs from Inverloch and Cape Paterson, right through to Phillip Island will be posted along the coast, signalling the best place to stop and watch the whales.

Ten sites were chosen for the signs, including the Cowes jetty.

In recent weeks there have been plenty of whales spotted, including one day when more than 20 humpback whales were spotted at Cape Paterson.

The initiative to plant signs along the coast was generated from a group of Bass Coast locals opposing the desalination plant.

Concerned residents were told by the State Government the project would have no effect on the whales, but the avid whale watchers had a different opinion.

“We were told the site of the plant was not an important one because there had only been one sighting,” Chris Heislers of desal opposition group Watershed said.

“We thought that was ridiculous and set up a monitoring program. We had a big group of locals who spent time down there, and monitored when and where a whale was sighted, and in one year we had up to 100 sightings.”

The success of this program saw it expand, and whale watchers were encouraged to phone in and report sightings.

The most common sightings were of humpback whales and southern right whales, a threatened species that migrates close to the coast to mate.

Usually, southern right whales can be seen from Punchbowl Road at San Remo or near the Cape Paterson cliffs.

The more acrobatic humpback whales tend to be seen further away from the coast.

Supported by Flinders MP Greg Hunt, the trail was a collaborative project with locals, Watershed, Bass Coast Shire Council and Phillip Island Nature Parks.

The signs for the trail were designed by Phillip Island artist Christine Larsen and are being printed.

Mr Heislers said, “We think this will get visitors engaged, but we also want to see these whales protected.”

Now in July, Bass Coast is right in the middle of the whale season. The season usually lasts until September, but there is potential to spot different species of whales all year round.

Close to the action: this humpback whale was spotted from a boat in Phillip Island. Photo credit: Lisa Shonberg.

Short URL: https://thestar.com.au/?p=21853

Posted by on Jul 11 2017. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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