Best time to see a whale on the North Coast is now

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: A humpback comes up for a closer look off Byron Bay last week.
CLOSE ENCOUNTER: A humpback comes up for a closer look off Byron Bay last week. Whalewatchingbyronbaycomau

AN ESTIMATED 15,000 humpback whales making their annual northward migration from their Antarctic feeding grounds toward the subtropical Queensland breeding and calving grounds are now passing the North Coast.

Whale Watching Byron Bay owner Rob Dalton said the season was in full swing now with the northern migration underway and the bulk of the population travelling past Byron Bay.

"They will be headed north until mid-August and from mid-August you will see some crossover with whales headed in both directions as some of the whales head south again," he said.

Mr Dalton said the humpback whale population appears to be healthy and growing, however, perhaps the most famous of the whales, the albino whale, Migaloo, hasn't been sighted yet.

"We usually see Migaloo around the end of July," Mr Dalton said.

Depending on the weather, Mr Dalton said he was taking around 15-20 tours out on the ocean each week, while Cape Byron remains one of the best land-based whale watching destinations.

At the beginning of this year's whale watching season, Cape Byron Trust chair Yvonne Stewart said after almost being made extinct by whaling, which only ceased in Byron Bay 50 years ago, the population is steadily recovering.

"Experts are predicting a record season with well over 15 000 humpback whales expected to pass Cape Byron during the 2013 season, so there's plenty of chance for everyone to watch for whales from the best location in Australia", Ms Stewart said.

Topics:  humpback whales whale migration whales whale watching

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