Whales in Australian waters are being left horribly scarred by vessel collisions.
Whales migrate through Australian waters from June to November and are a major tourist attraction. According to the International Whaling Commission, whale watching vessels are the main cause of vessel and whale collisions. Whales are being spotted with deep cuts and scars, with one seen off Eden, NSW, gaining the nickname Bladerunner due to deep propeller cuts in its skin.
Peter Harrison, a professor at Southern Cross University, believes an increase in the number of both whales and vessels have caused a rise in collisions. “Both the humpback whale populations and the number of vessels on our coastal waters are increasing and if people are not trained [to avoid them] or not aware of the potential to hit whales, then there will be increasing problems,” he told The Newsroom.
A whale is currently beached at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast and although whales beach naturally, there is speculation it may have been scared into swimming too close to the shore. “Loud and sudden noises can scare whales and this can cause stress and lead to avoidance behaviours,” Harrison said.
NSW government regulations say vessels must remain at least 100 metres from a adult whale and 300 metres from a calf. – Jade Meiach-Sherlock
Top photo from Michael Dawes’ Flickr photostream.