Editorial in the Sydney Telegraph

Humpback numbers increase to record levels in 2014 as “scientific” whaling ends in Antarctic
NEIL KEENE THE DAILY TELEGRAPH DECEMBER 27, 2014 12:00AM SHARE

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IT may have been the Chinese year of the horse but for Aussie whale-watching enthusiasts it has been the year of the humpback.

The giant marine mammals, whose numbers were once reduced to just a few hundred, have bounced back in record numbers yet again this year — with authorities counting thousands cruising up and down the east coast on their annual migration.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service marine fauna programs co-ordinator Geoff Ross said the humpback population was increasing 8 per cent to 11 per cent each year, pushing numbers as high as 23,000 in 2014.

“It is a really healthy population now and it has been a very good year generally for marine fauna,” he said.

Humpback Whales frolic in the South Pacific waters. Picture: Gabriel Barathieu, Majestic
Humpback Whales frolic in the South Pacific waters. Picture: Gabriel Barathieu, Majestic Whale Encounters
Mr Ross said the number of whales tangled in coastal nets had dropped. Picture: Gabriel B
Mr Ross said the number of whales tangled in coastal nets had dropped. Picture: Gabriel Barathieu, Majestic Whale Encounters
This year is the first whale-watching season since the International Court of Justice ruled against Japan continuing “scientific” whaling in the Antarctic.

And, happily, Mr Ross said the number of whales tangled in coastal nets had dropped.

Carmen Ellis, of Majestic Whale Encounters , the Central Coast company that leads tours to calving grounds in the South Pacific, said the surging population had been particularly apparent for three or four years.

She said whale watching continued to be hugely popular and an important part of winter in Australia.

“There is this real soulful quality about them, particularly when you are swimming with them,” she said.

“It’s not just their size — there is this thoughtfulness and compassion when you look into their eyes.”