Whale watching rules Perth

Guide for Whale Watching Near Perth’s Coastline

Guide to People / Boats Approaching Whales in the Indian Ocean Near Perth

  • Only persons with vessels licensed by Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) are to operate commercial vessel tours involving whale watching.
  • Persons on private vessels (including everything from surfboards and kayaks to yachts and launches) do not require whale watching licences, but must adhere to these rules and guidelines governing whale watching near Perth Western Australia.
  • Aircraft are not permitted to fly within 300 metres of a whale, except by special authorization.
  • Swimming with, feeding or touching whales in Western Australian waters is not permitted. Such actions may cause stress to the whale and are dangerous to people.
  • If you are in the water and a whale approaches, you must endeavour to keep a minimum of 30 metres distance between yourself and the whale.
  • Any marine vessel, whether powered by a motor, paddle or sail that is within a distance of 300 metres from a whale is within the whale’s contact zone. The following special rules apply within the contact zone
  • A vessel must not cause a whale to alter its direction or speed of travel
  • A vessel must not disperse or separate a group of whales.
  • A vessel, whether under power or drifting, must not approach a whale from a direction within an arc of 60? of the whale’s direction of travel or an arc of 60? of the whale’s opposite direction of travel.
  • A vessel must not approach a whale within a distance of 100 metres (except licensed ‘RESEARCH’ vessels in particular circumstances).
    Where a whale approaches a vessel and the distance between the whale and the vessel becomes less than 100 metres, the vessel master must place its motor or motors in neutral or move the vessel at less than five knots away from the whale until the vessel is outside the contact zone.
  • A vessel must not block the direction of travel of a whale, or any passage of escape available to a whale, from an area where escape is otherwise prevented by a barrier, shallow water, vessel or some other obstacle to the whale’s free passage.
  • A vessel master must abandon any interactions with a whale at any sign of the whale becoming disturbed or alarmed.
  • Whale Watching boat charter crew will advise Perth whale watching passengers of the above Rules for Whale Watching in Western Australian waters, aboard safe, stable whale watching boats.

If whales are diving for prolonged periods or swimming evasively, you are disturbing and upsetting them. Leave them alone. It is an offence to harass whales, and they may permanently abandon an area if continually disturbed.

In recent years, whale watching along Western Australia’s coastline has become an increasingly popular pastime with tourists and locals alike. Steeped in myth and mystery, whales have fascinated people for thousands of years; Jonah survived, according to the Bible, in the belly of a whale, and the tale of Moby Dick continues to intrigue.

Whales range in size and weight from the 31-metre blue whale, the world?s largest, weighing between 80 and 130 tonnes, to the 2.4-metre dwarf sperm whale, weighing about 150 kilograms.

They are divided into the toothed whales (eg., sperm and killer whales) and the baleen whales (like humpbacks). Toothed whales feed on squid, fish, and sometimes marine mammals. Mostly, baleen whales sieve planktonic organisms from the water. All are air-breathing, warm-blooded mammals that give live birth and nurse their young. They have streamlined, smooth-surfaced bodies, no external ears, flippers like forelimbs for steering and manoeuvring, very few hairs, and a layer of insulating blubber. These characteristics make them ideally suited to their marine environment.

In August 1989, a commercial whale-watching industry was established in the waters off Perth. This industry is based on south-bound migrating humpbacks from September to late November, when they can be seen in the area with great regularity. ?The interest in whale watching has expanded, with charter vessels now operating from Perth, Albany, Broome, Exmouth, Denham, Karratha and Geographe Bay.

Midday, when the sun is directly overhead, is the best time to observe whales from the land or air. Watching whales from a boat is more dependent upon weather, and less influenced by the time of day.

Whales are intelligent, sensitive mammals. The following Western Australian whale watching code has been prepared to encourage enjoyable and safe whale watching from boats, at the same time protecting these whales in Australian waters.