Tourists soon to swim with Australia’s humpback whales

Sydney, Nov 2 (IANS) Tourists will soon be able to swim with humpback whales of Australia in a trial program modelled on the successful whale shark tours at the country’s Ningaloo Marine Park.

Tourists can already swim with humpbacks off Mexico, Tonga and Queensland, however, conservation efforts have seen the whale population increase to about 30,000 in the area since the end of commercial whaling in the 1960s, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It’s one of the real conservation success stories with the species now fully recovered,” Western Australia Environment Minister Albert Jacob said on Monday.

The trial tours, beginning next August at Coral Bay and Exmouth, 1,200 km north of Perth, will be modelled of the success of the whale shark tour program where only one group of maximum 10 people will be allowed within 300 meters of a whale at any given time, Jacob said.

The overlapping whale shark and humpback migration season only increases the chances of genuine wildlife encounters and improved experiences for visitors, cementing Western Australia’s reputation as a world-class eco-tourism destination, Tourism Council of Western Australia chief Evan Hall said.

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