It's the time of year when the giants of the ocean make a spurt-acular return to the Mid North Coast.
About 40,000 whales are expected to pass our coastline as they head north to give birth to their young, with whale watching at its best in June.
They will then head back southwards, many with their newborn calves, during spring from September through to November.
Mid North Coast residents can expect to see mainly humpback whales, however other whale species include southern right whales, dwarf minke whales, tropical whales and even blue whales.
Port Jet Cruise Adventures' Anthony Heeney said it's shaping up to be a great whale watching season, following two years of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic and flooding.
Anthony said the business is continuing to experience financial challenges, given the high cost of fuel and persistent rainfall.
"The weather has killed us and the ocean has been very rough," he said.
However, he's looking forward to the whale watching season.
"We're lucky in Port Macquarie as we don't have to travel far offshore to see them," he said.
Anthony has run the business for about eight years and said it's always a special moment to see the giants of the ocean.
He said there's still a lot to learn about the animals, including how they navigate.
The 2021 Whale Census hosted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and ORRCA saw hundreds of whale spotters with binoculars in hand participate in the annual count, with Tacking Point Lighthouse the best vantage point.
The data collected at the Whale Census contributes to the ongoing estimates of the size of the east coast population of humpback whales.
National Parks and Wildlife Service marine fauna expert Shona Lorigan said humpback whales are easily recognisable and their behaviours, like breaching and rolling, always put on a show for whale watchers.
Regulations require all vessels to remain at least 100 meters away from whales, aircraft can fly no closer than 300m, and drones must not be operated closer than 100 meters.
For more information about whale watching approach zones, please visit www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
Whales in distress can be reported to the NSW NPWS on 13000 PARKS or ORRCA Whale and Dolphin Rescue's 24 hour hotline on (02) 9415 3333.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommends these top whale watching spots:
Charles Hamey lookout, Kattang Nature Reserve - This clifftop lookout offers magnificent coastal views across Dunbogan Beach and around to Diamond Head. Pack binoculars for great whale and birdwatching. Perpendicular Point walking track in the Reserve also offers spectacular coastal views.
Caption Cook's lookout, Hat Head National Park - Located beneath the Smoky Cape lighthouse near Kempsey, this is a great place to spot whales, enjoy a picnic and take in the amazing South West Rocks views. Experienced walkers can tackle the 10km (one way) Little Bay to Smoky Cape walk for whale spotting along the way.
Cape Hawke lookout, Booti Booti National Park - Just five minutes from Forster, the Cape Hawke lookout offers spectacular 360-degree views along the coast from the top of a dedicated tower, perfect for whale watching.
Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park - Close to South West Rocks, Arakoon National Park provides plenty of headlands and foreshores to spot passing whales, as well as great picnic spots near the historic Trial Bay Gaol. Spot mother whales and their calves in the calmer waters of Front Beach during the southern migration (Aug-Oct).
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