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Reef Report for Monday, June 20, 2005

Whales Return to the Great Barrier Reef and The International Whaling Commission Meets
An Interesting Coincidence

This past week the first marks the unofficial beginning of 'Whale Season" on the northern Great Barrier Reef, as two different species of whales return to the reef this month. Lucky reef visitors can now spot both Dwarf Minke and Humpback whales.

Dwarf Minke Whales are a rare and relatively poorly understood species. © Wet Image This time of year a small group of 200 or so Dwarf Minkes migrates to the Ribbon Reefs area, for a stay of around six weeks. These whales are quite curious about snorkelers in the water, will often linger nearby a snorkeler on the water surface for hours. This is truly one of the outstanding experiences one can have with marine mammals anywhere in the world. Hereís a complete index of all the Great Barrier Reef Dwarf Minke Whale trips.

Humpback Whales are also migrants into our area on during the months of July and August. Humpbacks migrate up from Antarctic waters into the calm waters of the Northern Great Barrier Reef for calving and mating. While not so frequently seen by divers in the water, these whales are very commonly spotted by dive boats heading to and from the reef out of Port Douglas and Cairns.

We find it interesting that the presence of whales in our waters coincides with the annual meeting of International Whaling Commission. This commission, whose actions regulate the killing of whales by whaling nations, is facing some very important decisions this year.

Japan, Iceland and Norway, the only countries with currently active whale-hunting nations are all actively promoting an agenda that would lead to the increased killing of whales. Japan has informed the world that it intends to double the number of whales killed in itís scientific whaling program, to a level that would kill over 800 whales in the next 12 months. Many scientists and conservation organizations have been calling this a sham science program, saying that no more is to be learned by killing more whales. Since whaling was largely prohibited 20 years ago, "scientific whaling" and limited commercial whaling has killed over 24,000 whales.

Australia has continued itís strong stance against the killing of whales, from seeking to strengthen itís southern ocean whale sanctuary to moving to prohibit the refueling of whaling ships of any kind in Australian ports.

We urge you to follow the IWC meeting through any number of sources, and to make your feelings known to your countryís national leadership, especially if your country is a member of an IWC. Want to take action yourself? You might consider the politics of countries where you are planning your next dive trip. © Wet Image Hereís a quick guide of the general stances on whaling of IWC member countries courtesy of Cyber Diver.

We will continue to follow this meeting, please check back here next week for news of the proceedings.

IWC Meeting Coverage:

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) coverage.

Humane Society of the United States.

International Whaling Commission.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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