East Coast Whale Trail

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Stop for a while; gaze out to sea contemplating the vast marine habitat of whales and you might just be lucky enough to see a whale!

The East Coast Whale Trail is a series of 14 coastal sites on Tasmania’s east coast with information signs about whales and where you have a good chance of seeing whales.

The East Coast Whale Trail is scattered all along the coast and the Great Eastern Drive, from The Gardens in the larapuna/Bay of Fires area near St Helens in the north, to Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula.

At each site you will find a sign with information and stories about whales and big sea views to search for signs of whales.  To help you get a closer view there are binoculars installed at Shelly Point south of St Helens and Cape Tourville in Freycinet National Park.

To help you along the East Coast Whale Trail download the Whale Trail brochure opposite, or look for copies at tourism information outlets. And you can find your way with a map of the East Coast Whale Trail Trail online.

Whales you might see along the East Coast Whale Trail

The waters around Tasmania support about 40 known species of whales and dolphins.  Large whales such as humpback and southern right whales are regularly seen during their annual migrations and dolphins are a frequent sight in Tasmania. 

View the Marine Conservation Program’s Whales and Dolphins website to help you identify whales you see, download their whale identification brochure, or check out the Tasmanian ’Whales and Seals’ App for iPhones.

Whales need your help

Whales are protected animals and while conservation efforts have made a big difference many species remain threatened.  Just by looking out for whales you can help by reporting any sightings.  Reports contribute to scientific understanding of whale migration and behaviour.  And reports of whales in trouble enables a quick response. 

Please report sightings, strandings and injured and unusual or rare marine animals such as elephant and leopard seals or turtles, to the Tasmanian Whale Hotline: 0427 WHALES (0427 942 537).  You can also use www.facebook.com/whalestas and tag photo posts with #whalestas.

Safe whale watching

Whales are big and can be dangerous if approach too closely.  They sometimes also suffer being hit by vessels that get too close.  To keep whales and you and your vessel safe while at sea follow the safe whale watching guidelines.

The basics are:

 

  • Slow down and avoid erratic changes in speed and direction
  • Approach no closer than the specified approach distances
  • Avoid approaching from directly in front of or behind the animal
 

For boats closer than 300m to whales don’t approach from the front or rear (60 degree sectors) and keep back 100m at least on the sides.  For dolphins it is 150m and 50m respectively.  There are guidelines for swimmers and aircraft too. 

If whales or dolphins approach your vessel closer than the minimum approach distances themselves it is okay, just leave that entirely to them and gently withdraw to a safe distance.  

The east Coast Whale Trail sites at the boat ramps at Burns Bay and Saltworks have more information, or better still get full details on the Marine Conservation Program’s Whales and Dolphins website.


 

The East Coast Whale Trail is supported by the Break O’Day Council and our partners through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. It is part of an Australian network of coastal whale viewing sites for a national Whale Trail Programme aiming to improve whale protection and management through greater community appreciation of whales.