Humpbacks on the move

PASSING TRADE: Surfers and whales share the water at Tallow Beach.
PASSING TRADE: Surfers and whales share the water at Tallow Beach. Northern Star

The annual northern migration of humpback whales along the east coast of Australia is under way, with the first sightings reported off the North Coast over the past few weeks.

Wally Franklin, a researcher with Southern Cross University's Whale Research Centre and co-director of The Oceania Project, said the northern migration usually began around the start of May.

“About this time we begin to see one or two whales and now we are into May the flow will start to pick up. The peak of the northward migration past Byron Bay occurs in June and July. There is evidence that the timing of the migration can vary between years, but generally the whales are regular,” he said.

Humpback whales leave the feeding grounds in Antarctica to head north to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef to breed and give birth. They spend some months off the north-east coast before heading south again.

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