Record number of whales head north on migration to Great Barrier Reef
RECORD numbers of whales have started making their way north for their annual migration to the Great Barrier Reef.
With winter approaching, an estimated 17,000 humpback whales are making the annual swim from the frozen seas of Antarctica into the protected tropical waters to start mating.
This year, the whales have started their epic journey early, with whales already spotted moving up Australia’s east coast, according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
GBRMPA conservation manager Dr Mark Read said humpback numbers had steadily increased by about 10 per cent each year.
A record 14,000 were reported last year.
"What we’re seeing now is that the numbers have reached a level where the tail end of the migration is earlier and with more whales," Dr Read said.
Between May and September, humpback whales travel north to socialise, mate, give birth and nurse their young.
University of Queensland whale expert Dr Michael Noad said he and his colleagues had spotted whales swimming off the southeast Queensland coast in March.
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Migration begins: Far Northerners can expect to see whales in our tropical waters soon as humpbacks start their annual migration from Antarctica up the Queensland coast.Picture: CAROL HUNT