Thursday, March 28, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Whitsundays Becomes Whale Heritage Site

A passionate group of community members are celebrating a game-changing accreditation this week with the confirmation that the Whitsundays is now formally recognised as a Whale Heritage Site.

The Whitsundays is the first Whale Heritage Site to be declared in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the only site in the world to be in a UNESCO World Heritage Area.

This significant breakthrough came about as a result of a dedicated locally-active community program by Whales of the Whitsundays (WoW) a group which advocates for the importance of our region for humpback whales to calve.

World Cetacean Alliance formally announced the news earlier this week and WoW are thrilled with a certification that will put the Whitsundays even more on the map.

The only other designated site in Australia is in Hervey Bay and WoW Program President, Olivia Brodhurst, said they are excited for the Whitsundays to join Hervey Bay and the nine other designated Whale Heritage Sites in the world.

“The Whitsundays with its beautiful fringing reef and calm, protected waters and 75 islands are clearly the chosen calving grounds for these majestic mammals migrating from the Antarctic,” Ms Brodhurst said.

She added that the group is committed to ensure the harmonious co-existence of whales and the vibrant tourism industry operating in the Whitsundays Whale Heritage Site.

“Continuing to raise awareness to ensure protection of whales is incredibly important, not only directly for the animals, but also for increasing stewardship of the environment,”Ms Brodhurst explained.

“Whales are the kind of species that people connect with, are in awe of, and will make lasting changes to protect”.

WoW holds annual community events including the Welcome Whale Event, a cultural celebration of the start of Whale Season in the Whitsundays.

This year’s event will be on the 14th of June at the Airlie Beach Foreshore and is expected to be a unifying and breathtaking dive into the world of whales.

WoW liaises with leading citizen science programs and provides educational opportunities for local tourism operators and members of the public to provide vital research on humpback whales, including collecting whale song using hydrophones.

The Whale Heritage Site program promotes global best practice for destinations with cetaceans (whales, dolphin and porpoises) that champion whales, dolphins, porpoises and their ocean habitats.
The WoW is supported by corporate sponsors Coral Sea Marina, Cruise Whitsundays, Zig Zag, Whitsunday Sailing and NautiLass Apparel.

WHAT: Welcome Whale Event
WHEN: June 14
WHERE: Airlie Beach Foreshore

Whales of the Whitsundays Program Steering Committee members, from Left to Right Deb Duggan, Lindsay Simpson, Robert Congoo, Olivia Brodhurst and Deanna Vierling. Photo supplied

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