WARNINGS are issued to beware of wildlife on land and at sea for their protection and to prevent personal injury.
The Conservation Agency wants visitors to keep their distance from whales as videos of dangerous interactions surge on social media.
Videos of swimmers, surfers and people in boats getting too close to whales are being posted on social media, encouraging behavior that threatens the animals’ health and welfare.
It is investigating nine reports that boats have been too close to whales this season, as well as individuals featured in several videos posted online.
This month, as part of the Conservation Regulator’s Operation Calyx, water patrols are being conducted to ensure people keep their distance from whales, dolphins and seals.
The Arthur Rylah Institute’s Whaleface project has reported 125 sightings of southern right whales along the Victorian coast this season, including seven cow and calf pairs in the South West.
Swimmers and surfers must stay at least 50 meters away from whales, while boats must stay at least 200 meters – or two football pitches – and jet skis 300 meters away.
Wildlife crime can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Meanwhile, the Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is warning that spring means swooping native birds like magpies and masked lapwings.
Katherine Whittaker, senior wildlife projects officer, said some native birds swoop to defend their eggs and young for six to eight weeks before they leave the nest.
“Swooping is basically a scare tactic to warn people and animals not to approach their nesting young. Birds can ambush people or animals, so watch your dogs, too,” Whittaker said. “But not all birds swoop during the breeding season to protect their eggs and young, so don’t worry just because there are magpies or other frequent swoops in the area.”
Whittaker’s tips for avoiding nosedives: know your local nosedive hotspots; avoid the area if possible; move fast, but don’t run; cover your head with a hat, helmet or umbrella, but don’t wave it around; Do not molest or feed birds.
To miss known swooping hotspots or to report a swooping incident on Victoria’s interactive swooping bird map, visit wildlife.vic.gov.au/managing-wildlife/swooping-birds
First published in Southern Peninsula News – September 20, 2022