Whale-watchers encouraged to be COVID responsible

Photo by Matt Coombe.
Photo by Matt Coombe.

Despite concerns that ORRCA's 2020 Whale Migration Census would join the long list of events cancelled as a result of COVID-19, the organisation has pushed ahead with its annual count, which is scheduled for Sunday, June 28.

ORRCA vice president, Jools Farrell, said they were encouraging people to participate in a manner that followed the current social distancing guidelines.

"The message we're getting across to people is we need to be responsible in regards to COVID-19," she said.

The decision to proceed with the census remained up in the air until just a few weeks ago, when the NSW Government eased further restrictions.

Ms Farrell said with less people likely to take part and some popular sighting spots in national parks still closed, there was a chance they would record less whales this year.

"That's something we're mulling over at the moment," she said.

"Will we see as many whales because there will be less people? It's a possibility."

In 2019, the census recorded 2,743 whales travelling up the NSW coast on Sunday, June 30.

Ms Farrell said that number was up nearly 500 whales on the year before, with the whale population in general enjoying a significant boom.

"The population is increasing by about 10-15 per cent each year," she said.

Anyone interested in taking part in this year's census is encouraged to get to their favourite headland or whale-watching spot anytime between dawn and dusk on June 28.

Make sure you email the ORRCA team beforehand at orrcacensusday@gmail.com to register your location.

Also be sure to print off some ORRCA sighting log sheets and record all sightings, including dolphins and seals.

Finally, report your findings - including log sheets - back to the ORRCA team via the email above when the day is done.

Ms Farrell said the results of the census were usually published two to three weeks after the census date, once all the findings had been collated.

Those results were then shared with National Parks and Wildlife Services.