Whales wave goodbye after a bumper season

See you next time: A total of 4,813 whales were spotted by Cape Solander volunteers heading north for heading for warmer waters during the 2017 whale watching season.

See you next time: A total of 4,813 whales were spotted by Cape Solander volunteers heading north for heading for warmer waters during the 2017 whale watching season.

Volunteers at Cape Solander in Kamay Botany Bay National Park counted 4,813 whales heading for warmer waters compared to 3033 last year.

The most number of whales ever counted in one day was also recorded on June 26 when 224 whales were spotted.

Humpback whales dominated the count.

Well spotted: Cape Solander volunteer whale watchers Wayne Reynolds and Chris Rasborsek. Picture: John Veage

Well spotted: Cape Solander volunteer whale watchers Wayne Reynolds and Chris Rasborsek. Picture: John Veage

Only two southern right whales were spotted during the 2017 season, along with 17 minke whales.

The data is collected by volunteers to help estimate migrating whale populations.

Experts estimate around 30,000 humpback whales alone will migrate north along the NSW coastline this year to head for warmer waters before returning between September and November with their newborn calves.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton thanked the group of 16 Cape Solander volunteers who count the northern migration of the humpback whales from the end of May until the end of July each year.

This year was their is year 20 whale season of counting.

“These trained community volunteers dedicated more than 2,000 hours of their time to the whale count program this year,” Ms Upton said.

Volunteer Wayne Reynolds, who has a background in volunteer whale rescue, has been involved in the project for 20 years.

“Cape Solander is a real focal point for community education about whales and it’s been wonderful to be part of a close knit group of loyal volunteers,” Mr Reynolds said.

“We’re now seeing thousands of humpbacks pass by Cape Solander every winter, and it’s also been a thrill to see the occasional blue, southern right and killer whale over the years,” he said.

The whale distance regulations for boaters is to stay at least 300 metres from a whale with its calf and 50 metres away from adult dolphins.

Log on to the Wild about Whales website to see the other regulations: http://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/whale-watching/approach-zones

Stranded, entangled, or sick whales should be reported immediately to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Environment Line on 131 555 or ORRCA Whale and Dolphin Rescue on (02) 9415 3333 (24 hour hotline).

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