This attached newsletter is aimed at the charter operators cruising and fishing in Kimberley waters, but the rules are the same for private cruising vessels.
I note that they have softened their rules related to whale watching and interaction. It has changed to vessels not approaching a mother and calf closer than 500 meters, and if the whales close on the vessel, the vessel must remain in neutral. Previously, the proposed rule was that vessels had to move away and maintain minimum 500 meters from the whales if the whales approached the vessel. The new rule also makes specific mention of the whales being a mother and calf. This leaves it a little unclear as to whether or not you can approach a single adult whale up to 100 meters (as the rules currently allow).
There are hundreds of Humpback Whales, including mothers and calves, scattered throughout Kimberley waters from about July through to October; they don’t just stay in the proposed new marine park. This begs the question. Do the same rules apply outside the park, or can these whales be approached up to 100 meters? Lets hope the 100 meter rule stays for whales outside the park, because from my experience, looking at a whale from half a kilometer way is a waste of time.
The photo below would have been almost impossible to shoot from over 500 meters away.