The biggest migration of humpback whales on record off the coast of New South Wales has just begun.
Several whales have already been spotted off Merimbula and Eden on the far south coast, with up to 20,000 whales expected to join the migration this year between June and early October.
The whales will take just two weeks to travel from Eden to the Coral Sea breeding and calving grounds, and after several weeks in these warmer waters, begin the return journey in mid-July.
National Parks whale spokesman Lawrence Orel says whale numbers in the annual migration from Antarctic waters to the Coral Sea have gradually increased since the end of whaling in the region.
“In the early 1960s, humpback whales were really wiped out on the east coast,” he says. “Numbers were estimated to be down to 500 individual migrating whales.
“Since the cessation of whaling across NSW, numbers have slowly been increasing.”
Sydney kicked off the season with the opening of annual whale-watching boat tours, Eden has just opened the shore-based Killer Whale Trail — a self-drive tour around stunning Twofold Bay.