Whales in record numbers


Whales in record numbers

By Jane Ross
MORE than 30 humpback whales have been sighted off the coast this season, between Cape Liptrap and Phillip Island.
The mighty creatures play and rest in local waters on their long annual journey north from the Antarctic seas to Queensland.
They are being counted this year as part of a winter whale watch being conducted by members of Watershed Victoria who are concerned about the possible impact of the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant on whales, sharks and dolphins.
As part of the campaign, a “whale welcome” has been organised for 11am on Sunday, July 25. This will be conducted at Williamsons Beach, where the desalination plant is being built. King Neptune will be there to provide a blessing and there will be a sand sculpture contest and barbecue.
Watershed president Stephen Cannon and colleague Mark Robertson who is coordinating the whale watch, believe that because of the numbers of whales that have been sighted in the area, this could be a record year.
Whale watch was launched two months ago, with the aim of collecting information about the movements and habits of marine life along the coast.
“Already we have received dozens of reports, including pods of 50-plus dolphins at Cape Paterson, eight-plus pilot whales and a killer whale cruising Williamsons Beach,” Mr Cannon said.
“Humpbacks in groups of two to five, some with young, are spread along the coast from Inverloch to Cowes. There was also a large whale spotted at the top of Port Phillip Bay.”
Mr Cannon said a local teacher had spied 21 humpbacks in six days between Eagles Nest and Phillip Island.
“Our ever-vigilant surfers sighted a five to six metre great white shark at Kilcunda and beat a hasty retreat to shore!” he said.
John Dickie, skipper of the Kasey Lee cruise boat operating from Cowes, reported sighting more than 30 humpback whales and the western entrance from Seal Rocks to Rhyll seems to be a popular spot for them.
Mr Cannon said this is the first time the sightings are being collected and recorded in a coordinated fashion. Members of the public can log further sightings for the remainder of this year by ringing the whale hotline on 0438 646 677.
The whale watch initiative was prompted by the view, expressed in the desalination plant Environmental Effects Statement, that this coastline “does not provide important feeding, breeding or calving habitat for these species”.
Mr Cannon said that view – erroneous in his opinion – was expressed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment and reiterated at the time by Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett.
Southern right and humpback whales are listed as endangered and threatened species.
More information is available from www.watershedvictoria.org.au

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=50

Posted by SiteAdmin on Jul 13 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. 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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