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From the President - September 2020

24 Sep 2020 12:39 PM | Anonymous

From the President

Dear members, with all the depressing statistics about COVID-19 here’s some joyful news from our amazing humpback whales who are back in our coastal waters.

As they move north along Australia’s eastern coastline on their annual migration from Antarctica, their numbers, now thought to be approximately 30,000, have increased again this year. Humpback whales feed in summer in the polar waters of Antarctica, and migrate to tropical and subtropical waters of Australia to breed and give birth in winter. This results in thousands of humpbacks swimming past Australia’s east coast between May and early November each year. The peak months are usually September and October when it is not unusual to see a mother whale travelling with her calf. Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island is the closest place to Brisbane where you can enjoy land-based whale watching. Hervey Bay around Fraser Island is widely regarded as one of the best destinations to see whales because they stay there for an extended period with mothers and calves resting and playing in the calm waters.

There are also many whale-watching boat tours available from Southeast Queensland coastal centres. I hope you may have an opportunity to view these spectacular visitors during the current migration, either from a land-based vantage point or on a whale watching boat trip.

A major concern being monitored by conservation groups and the Queensland Government Fisheries Department is that, with the increasing numbers of whales swimming by our shores and the year-round positioning of drumlines and shark nets off popular swimming beaches, there is an increased risk of entanglement for the whales.

This August saw the fifth whale entanglement in only three months of the 2020 whale migration season along Queensland’s coast. A humpback whale calf was caught on a drumline’s hook, positioned off Main Beach, Stradbroke Island. Fortunately, the calf was freed and returned to its waiting mother after an intense five-hour rescue operation by Queensland Fisheries. Earlier this year, four humpbacks were entangled in Gold Coast shark nets in the space of just one month.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has called for a transition away from shark nets and lethal drumlines toward solutions such as drones, boosted lifeguard presence, and removal of these devices during the whale migration season (AMCS August 17, 2020).

An announcement from the Minister based on scientifically monitored trials is expected soon.

AGM and Council nominations

The RGSQ annual general meeting is on 20 October. If any member would like to nominate for the 2020-2021 Council, please email the Office at info@rgsq.org.au for a nomination form or to discuss a role on the Council please feel free to contact me at 0419 756 936.

References:

Matilda Boseley The Guardian June 19 2020 Whales are moving up Australia’s east coast

https://www.theguardian.com2020/jun/19/the-whales-are-moving-up-australias-east-coast-tell-us-about-your-best-spot

Australian Marine Conservation Society 17 August 2020. Humpback calf caught on Stradbroke Island drumline https://www.marineconservation.org.au/humpback-calf-caught-on-stradbroke-island-drumline

ABC News 28 June 2020Humpback whale census record set to be smashed along Australia’s east coast https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-28/humpback-whale-record-set-to-be-smashed-on-australia-east-coast/12393334



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