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Whale hits and near misses prompt warning to take extra care on the water

Boaties are reminded to take extra care on the water and ensure they are familiar with safe approach distances following a whale strike and several near misses in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

A submerged humpback whale was hit by a vessel near Cairns late last month and suffered a wound to its head, while compliance patrols have encountered several Marine Park users getting too close to the migrating animals.

“Boat strikes are a serious issue for both the whales and people so it’s important that we are all particularly vigilant out on the water this time of year with an estimated 30,000 humpback whales migrating along the coast,” Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority operations support manager Dr Mark Read said.

“Know the law — legally, vessels must stay at least 100 metres from whales in the Marine Park and 300 metres in the Whitsunday Whale Protection Area. It’s also a requirement to stay at least 300 metres away from a whale calf throughout the Marine Park.

“Do not get in the water if you see a whale — if you’re already in the water, do not disturb, chase or block the path of a whale and – if possible – return to your vessel.”

Other safety precautions include posting an extra watch person when in areas frequented by whales, reducing speed, and taking extra care when travelling at night.

Marine Park users can report sick, injured, stranded or dead whales using the free Eye on the Reef app which will automatically alert wildlife rangers and rescuers to the location using the app’s GPS function. You can also call 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or email [email protected].

Whale sightings can also be reported to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Sightings Network.

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