- Third year of swimming with humpback whales trial underway
- Approval granted for in-water interactions with humpback whales in 2019 and 2020, with the aim to transition to a licensed industry
- In-water interactions a major drawcard to the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, supporting local jobs
Visitors to Ningaloo Marine Park can swim with majestic humpback whales for a third year running, with the new trial season commencing off the Coral Coast.
The Minister for Environment has also approved the continuation of the in-water interaction trials for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
The move will attract thousands of tourists to visit the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast to interact with the massive marine mammals as they make their way north to their Kimberley calving grounds.
With the trial re-commencing in Coral Bay last month and in Exmouth this month, visitors can also experience whale sharks, manta rays and turtles, which are usually present while humpback whales are migrating through the area.
The in-water interactions with humpback whales trial is managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions under strict licence conditions, supported by a research and monitoring program.
During the 2017 trial, more than 200 in-water interaction tours with humpback whales were conducted with about 1,700 in-water participants.
The McGowan Government is working with tour operators and key stakeholders with a view to transitioning the trial to a licensed industry over the next two years, which aims to create jobs and boost the local economy.
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
"It's unique experiences like these that set Western Australia apart from other tourist destinations. Our amazing coastline means people who come visit Australia to simply whale watch can now take it up a notch and swim with the humpback whales - thanks to the continuation of this trial.
"My Government's priority is to diversify the economy and create jobs for Western Australians. Trialling experiences like these is another way we can attract more visitors to our State and bring about a boost to our local communities that host these exceptional experiences."
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
"We are continuing to assess and develop this new and innovative tourism experience, but visitor research from the first two years of the trial indicates that visitor satisfaction is very high and there are no indications of negative impacts on the whales.
"For this reason we are continuing the trial for a third year, and are working with operators towards establishing in-water humpback whale interactions as a long-term industry that ensures the whales are protected and appreciated in a sustainable way.
"The abundance and diversity of marine megafauna is one of the reasons the Ningaloo Coast was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011, and the area continues to provide outstanding nature-based tourism through its whale shark and humpback whale interactions."
Comments attributed to Tourism Minister Paul Papalia:
"The McGowan Government is committed to sustainable tourism that provides benefits to regional economies, and the extraordinary opportunity to swim with these ocean giants is a big drawcard for visitors to Australia's Coral Coast.
"Facilitating humpback whale experiences has been an exciting development that is gaining interest from around the world, and I am looking forward to seeing the industry mature and become one of Western Australia's most significant attractions."
Premier's office - 6552 5000
Environment Minister's office - 6552 5800
Tourism Minister's office - 6552 5600