The Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) is confident humpback numbers are continuing to increase in Australia despite the annual whale count resulting in a slightly lower total than 2019.
Crowds took to a number of vantage points across the Mid-North Coast on June 28 to participate in ORRCA's 2020 Whale Migration Census.
ORRCA vice president Jools Farrell said in 2020 there weren't as many people out and about counting the animals, due to poor weather in some locations and health precautions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ms Farrell, count numbers could have also been slightly down in 2020 due to whales travelling out from the coastline, rather than sticking close to shore.
On the day 2589 humpbacks were counted by avid whale watchers, slightly lower than the 2019 total of 2743.
In Port Macquarie, 120 whales were counted before midday from the Tacking Point Lighthouse.
However, Ms Farrell said overall ORRCA is confident humpback numbers continue to increase, in a positive trend for the species.
Ms Farrell said if people are lucky they might be able to spot whales returning as part of the southern migration.
People can expect to see more whales as part of the southern migration as mothers return south with calves.
They are often accompanied by bull (males) whales as escorts.
"They're escorting the mum and the calves to protect them from predators," Ms Farrell said.
Whales also tend to hug the coastline more than the northern migration, to allow babies to feed and rest.
Ms Farrell said some juvenile whales have already started the migration south because they travelled north early.
The peak time to see whales as part of the southern migration is October, according to Ms Farrell.
ORRCA is urging people to contact its rescue hotline on 9415 3333 if they see a marine animal who is in trouble, or suspect it could be.
A 12-metre-long whale washed ashore at Hat Head on July 16 during large and hazardous surf conditions.
Ms Farrell said the whale was later seen swimming offshore but it's not clear whether it died out at sea, or recovered and continued to travel.