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Humpbacks bounce back along Newcastle coast


Whale watchers are in for a real treat.

The annual migration of Humpbacks is currently underway along the East Coast of Australia.

From now through to early November, Newcastle’s stunning coastline comes alive with thousands of majestic whales, who are making their 5000km journey from feeding grounds in the icy Antarctic Southern Ocean to the warmer waters off northern Queensland.

The Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans (ORRCA) census results from the past 21 years indicate a gradual increase of migration numbers.

It’s expected 2021 will be the most populated yet with researchers hoping for a 10-15% increase on 2020’s recorded population of more than 35,000 Humpback whales.

Numbers have recovered so well for the species that the federal government is considering delisting the mammal, which is categorised as vulnerable under national environmental laws, due to the recovery of populations since the end of whaling.

The government’s discussion paper estimates whaling reduced humpback populations off eastern Australia from 26,133 to 200-500 by 1962.

In Western Australia, it estimates a population of 21,686 was reduced to 800-1,000.

The paper suggests populations have now returned to their original size.

Photo: NOVA Cruises

NOVA Cruises general manager Peter Hanrahan said he had been keeping a close eye on the migration patterns from Newcastle since the company pioneered whale watching from the city back in 2007.

“The comeback of the whale population is great news not only for the humpback species but is also a good indication on the health of our oceans and the environment,” he explained.

“The fact we are seeing more and more whales every year is terrific.

“When we first began our whale watching cruises there were only 8000 whales estimated to be migrating.

“To see close to 40,000 whales migrating this year is something not yet witnessed in our lifetime.”

As well as whales, dolphins, seals, sea birds, sharks and more can be seen from the city’s shores.

Guests onboard NOVA Cruises can be confident in spotting a whale with the company boasting a 94% sighting rate last season.

For the few who are unfortunate enough not to see one, the company offers a free return stand-by cruise to try their luck again.

The 2021 whale watching season operates from 2 June to 1 November.

Full details and information can be obtained from NOVA Cruises on 0400 381 787 or for general information and online bookings log on to

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