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Home > Native Plants & Animals > Animals of Tasmania > Caring for Wildlife > Whale & Dolphin Viewing Guidelines

Whale & Dolphin Viewing Guidelines

Guidelines for dolphin and whale watching are in place in Tasmanian and Commonwealth waters to ensure human safety and to protect the welfare of the animals. The guidelines apply to both commercial operators (eg tour operators) as well as individuals lucky enough to chance upon a pod of dolphins or whales.

If you see whales, dolphins or other marine mammals in Tasmanian waters, please ring our hotline (0427 WHALES or 0427 942 537). This information is vital. Not only are you adding to our knowledge of these species, your information may even prevent whales and dolphins from stranding.

The basic rules when near whales and dolphins are to keep a safe distance, remain quiet, and do not try to touch or feed them.

Approach distances for whalesApproach distances for dolphins

Approach distances for helicopters near whales and dolphinsApproach distances for aircraft near whales and dolphins

Viewing guidelines

  • In a vessel approach no closer than 100m to a whale or 50m to a dolphin
  • If your vessel is under steam you should approach no closer than 300m for whales or 150m for dolphins - no more than three vessels within the caution zone (see diagram)
  • Withdraw immediately, at a slow and steady pace, if the animals show any kind of disturbance
  • Adopt a slow speed (no wake) while in the area
  • Approach the animal from parallel to, and slightly to the rear (see diagram)
  • Personal motorised watercraft (including jet skis and remotely operated craft) should not approach whales or dolphins any closer than 300m. If whales or dolphins move within this distance, the vessel should slow down and move away from the animal(s) at no-wake speed to at least 300m away.

    Please remember ~ keep a safe distance, remain quiet, and do not try to touch or feed them.

    Helicopers and other aircraft

  • Aircraft may disturb whales and dolphins due to their speed, noise, shadow, or downdraft in the case of helicopters. The following restrictions apply:
  • Helicopters should not fly lower than 500m, within a 500m radius around a whale or dolphin (see diagram)
  • Other aircraft should not fly lower than 300m, within a 300m radius around a whale or dolphin (see diagram).

  • Images courtesy Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
    For more information see the Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin WatchingYou are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement

    Contact: Marine Mammal Conservation Program
    Biodiversity Conservation Branch
    Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
    134 Macquarie Street, GPO Box 44
    HOBART TAS 7001
    Phone: 03 6165 4305
    Fax: 03 6233 3477

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