Humpback having a whale of a time in Sydney Harbour

24 May 2018

The whale-watching season has begun with a splash, with the first sighting of a juvenile humpback in Sydney Harbour today.

Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said today is a great start to the season and is a timely reminder for those on the water to give these precious mammals space.

“The whale watching season traditionally kicks off in May when whales head north from Antarctic waters,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Seeing a whale can be amazing but there are guidelines to protect marine mammals. People need to respect whales’ size and space requirements.”


  • Juvenile humpback spotted off Dobroyd Head, near the entrance to Middle Harbour
  • People in boats, on surfboards or kayaks must not approach any closer than 100 metres from a whale or pod and 300 metres from a mother whale and calf
  • Swimmers should remain at least 30 metres from marine mammals
  • Fixed wing aircraft must not approach any closer than 300 metres and helicopters no closer than 500 metres.

Vessels must always travel at a safe speed which will enable them to stop in time to avoid distressing or colliding with a marine mammal. This speed cannot be expressed as a maximum number of knots as it will vary according to the circumstances and conditions.

Roads and Maritime and National Parks & Wildlife Service officers can issue a maximum fine of $110,000 or two-year imprisonment, or both.

For more information on safe boating near marine mammals please view or download the Be responsible near whales brochure.

Share this page: