KEEN whale watchers were assisted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and ORRCA volunteers for the annual 2021 Whale Migration Census Day on June 27.
ORRCA members are now busily collecting and counting the numbers from the Census Day, and while the final statistics are yet to be released, volunteers are hopeful this year's numbers will bring good news for our whale population.
ORRCA vice-president Jools Farrell said this year's numbers are looking promising, despite some number counts being lower than usual due to the Sydney and Central Coast COVID lockdown.
"Because of the lockdown, we couldn't send out our ORRCA members from Wollongong to the Central Coast and instead we have had to rely on members of the public who were out walking and exercising to send in their numbers," Jools said.
"Tacking point at Port Macquarie, according to the numbers we have received, recorded 227 on the day."
Sugarloaf Point near Forster has so far recorded the highest for the Mid North Coast, with 301 whale sightings on June 27.
"South West Rocks recorded 74 and Hat Head was one of the highest with 285 sightings," Jools said.
"These numbers could rise further when we get all of the information back from members of the public.
"We're hoping that numbers will be close to last year, but because of lockdowns we might not get the most accurate numbers."
ORRCA volunteers counted 4851 humpback whales off the coast of Port Macquarie during the month of June.
"There are a lot of whales travelling past at the moment and we've noticed that they are closer to shore than usual which means we're seeing more of them. It's been a really good season so far."
The one creature of the deep that everyone is keen to spot, Migaloo, is proving to be elusive this year.
"There was a report that someone saw Migaloo off Port Macquarie earlier this month, but at this stage there have been no confirmed sightings of him," Jools said.
"He usually heads north during June or July so he might not have gone past yet."
ORRCA volunteers are urging members of the public to call their 24/7 rescue number on 02 9415 3333 if they see a whale in distress.
"We have been called to eleven entangled whales this migration season," Jools said.
"We would rather have a false alarm than a whale be left in distress, so we encourage people to call our rescue number if they see a whale that's distressed."
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