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Reef Report for Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Its Humpback Whale Season on the Great Barrier Reef
Dive boats reporting many whale sightings.

The picture below was emailed to us by Calypso Cruises in Port Douglas, who were fortunate to have a curious Humpback Whale thrill their guests when it closely approached their boat. We also spotted three Humpbacks while out on the reef last week

This is not an infrequent occurrence during the months of July through September along the Great Barrier Reef, as a healthy population of Humpback Whales migrates from Antarctic waters to the northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef during these months. Whale sightings are an added bonus to reef trips this time of year, not only do visitors get to dive and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, but they might also be fortunate enough to see a Humpback whale or two.

Itís known that the northern section of the reef is a calving and mating ground, whales come here and linger for some time, either waiting for their calves to grow large enough to make the journey back south, or to mate.

Australiaís Humpback whales are a great conservation success story. The Australian populations were hunted down to very low numbers during the whaling era, which ended in the early 1960ís. Since then they have been under complete protection, and the population has recovered well; now itís estimated that nearly 10,000 Humpbacks use the East coast of Australia as habitat.

What has also grown since 1960 is Australianís interests in whales. Whale watching tours are now a big drawing card for cities along both the East and West coasts, and the consistent annual appearance of Humpback whales the main reason this industry has evolved.

Australianís are also very interested in protecting what they are coming to see as "their" whales. The Australian government played a key role in establishing the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, which protects whales from scientific and commercial harvest.

The wider Australian population has also been very supportive of protecting Humpbacks. They have been very vocal in protesting actions by Japanís whaling interest, first to abolish the Southern Sanctuary, and current plans to harvest up to 50 Humpback Whales as a part of their scientific whaling research program, which many consider a thinly disguised commercial whaling program.

Australiaís Humpback Whale Recover Plan

Australianís protest whaling plans.

Southern Whale Sanctuary news.

New Zealand protests whaling plan.

(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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