Whales by Numbers on Sunday
EVERYONE is invited to celebrate the start of the whale season by joining National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia) this Sunday for an official whale census.
Dedicated local whale watchers Elaine Reid, from Byron Bay, and Tiffany Lee, from Tyagarah, have been regulars up at Byron lighthouse for the past five months watching the whales on their northern migration spotting 80 whales since May 18 this year.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Byron Coast Area Manager Sue Walker said this weekend’s whale census will run from 7am-4pm at Cape Byron Lighthouse and align with a number of other locations in National Parks around NSW as well as key locations in Victoria, Western Australia and New Zealand on the same day.
“The information gathered helps us to obtain a snapshot of whale movements and behaviour around Australia on that day,” Ms Walker said.
“This data is analysed and used to understand more about these wonderful animals and how we can best protect them, now and into the future.
“The census is run in conjunction with ORRCA, a non-government volunteer organisation, the only wildlife carers group in the state licensed to be involved with marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation and release.”
Tiffany Lee is a member of ORRCA and was up at the lighthouse last week watching whales already with Elaine Reid.
Elaine has lost count of the number of years she has been watching whales and has witnessed society’s changing attitudes.
The whaling industry existed in Byron Bay from 1954 until 1962 with numbers of passing whales reportedly falling to around 150-200 per year in the 1960s.
“Growing up I watched them being killed and brought up onto the dock to be processed,” said Elaine.
“We would hear the harpoon go off and we would run up to the reservoir and watch them come in, sometimes with two whales.
They came close to extinction until attitudes changed and there was a focus on trying to get them back.
“It’s so lovely to see that a creature we have nearly wiped out has been able to regroup and regrow its number. We have gone from wanting to kill them to wanting to love them,” said Tiffany.
NPWS encourages people to use the Cape’s walking tracks to access the lighthouse as parking is limited and costs $8 per car.
For information go to: www.wildaboutwhales .com.au.
Whale watchers can share their sightings on Twitter with the @wildaboutwhales community using #whaleon, log the sightings via our mobile app, Whales NSW, and check out where the whales are with the map on the website.