Today there is less than 50, 000 humpback whales left throughout the world. Before the banning of commercial whaling, hundreds of thousands of humpbacks were slaughtered throughout the world.
Even though commercial whaling was one of Australiaâ€™s first primary industrys, this has not affected the humpbackâ€™s love for the warm waters of the Gold Coast, underpinning why it is now one of the major breeding areas worldwide.
It is reported that approximately 12,000 to 15,000 humpback whales migrate to Queenslandâ€™s coastline every breeding season.
There has been consistent documented annual increase in the number of whales that migrate to the Gold Coast suggesting that the population will double within the next 15 years â€“ fantastic news for Queenslandâ€™s whale watching and whale watching Gold Coast industries!
The Australian National Guidelines for Dolphin and Whale Watching regulates the waters off the Gold Coast and Brisbane coastline. It states that vessels must not deliberately approach a whale within 100 meters and should travel at low speed within 300 meters.
While humpback whales are now protected from commercial whaling, this does not stop them being accidentally killed from ship strikes and net entanglement. Other threats that the humpback encounters during its migration to the Gold Coast include: human activities that generate biotoxins, noise, marine debris, over-fishing, and habitat loss or degradation.
With the forever increasing population of whales along Queenslandâ€™s coastline, the introduction of speed limits and trained observers on large ships and ferries may be necessary to reduce the risk of ship strikes.
One of the biggest disturbances for the humpback whale is acoustic harassment caused by the militaryâ€™s use of low-frequency sonar.
With a lifespan of up to 50 years, the chances of spotting the same humpback whale more than once throughout the waters off the Gold Coast and Brisbane coastline is very high, underpinning why whale watching is more economically valuable than whaling.