Managing interactions with humpbacks

Western Australia is one of the best places in the world to see whales as they migrate up and down the coast. An estimated thirty to forty thousand humpbacks and other whales swim along our coast each year in their migration from their Antarctic feeding grounds to their breeding and calving sites in tropical waters.

Following a successful four-year trial, the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo coast is set to become home to WA’s first licensed “swimming with humpback whales” industry,

The Draft Management Program for managing interactions with humpbacks along the Ningaloo Coast has been released for public comment. It focuses on commercial in-water humpback whale interactions from Exmouth and Coral Bay but also considers recreational activities, whale watching and other operations in the region.

Over the past four years, more than 900 in-water interaction tours with humpback whales were conducted with about 9500 in-water participants.

In-water interactions with humpback whales are licensed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). DBCA developed the draft program in consultation with Gnulli joint management partners, commercial operators and scientists.

DBCA will review public submissions and advertise a competitive process to allocate licences for commercial in-water humpback interaction tours starting from 2021.

The public comment period will close on February 13, 2020. To find out more and have your say, visit