THE ‘Humpback Highway’ is set to hit peak hour as more than 11,500 whales migrate past our coastline for the warmer waters off Queensland.

According to Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre director, Peter Harrison, whale-watchers should witness an increase of about 1000 humpbacks migrating off the coast this year.

Whale-watchers off the Gold Coast were treated to a number of active pods at the weekend.

“There have been various reports since April, but we should see an increase in whale sightings in the next few weeks,” Mr Harrison said.

“The northern migration peaks in the last weeks of June, with the last stragglers coming through in July on their way to the Great Barrier Reef.

“We expect to see about 11,500 to 12,000 whales migrating this year, which is probably about another 1000 from last year.

“We believe that is still only a third of the original population last century before whaling ... it dro-pped to as low as 100 to 200.

“The increase in humpbacks on the east coast of Australia is a good news story. The rate they are increasing at is a little over 10 per cent a year.”

The first humpbacks to migrate are usually younger male and non-pregnant females, with pregnant females the last to head north after gorging themselves in Antarctic waters before making the 7000km journey.

To ensure the survival of their calves, mothers must produce 600 litres of extremely rich milk a day.



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