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Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Rules And Regulation of Whale Watching


Each winter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park sees an influx of humpback and minke whales. Each and every dolphin and whale that enters the park is protected, with a very strict set of rules in place when encountering them. 

Most of the encounters in the Marine Park and Whitsunday Islands are accidental, as there are few whale watching operators in the area. However, even if encountering them by surprise or accident there is a strict set of rules that people and vessels much adhere to. 

  • You must not prohibit their movement or pathways - Don't intentionally get in their way or between them and their calves. It can end badly! Keep in mind how big they are! It is also extremely stressful to the animals
  • Do not harm, harass, chase or injure them in any way
  • Do not attempt to touch or feel whales or dolphins
  • You must not enter the water within 300m of a whale or 100m of a dolphin
  • A boat or vessel must not approach within 100m away from a whale and 50m from a dolphin
  • If the whale or dolphin has a calf, vessels much stay 300m and 150m away
  • You must report any injured whales or dolphins
  • If a whale or dolphin approaches a vessel, all avenues must be taken to avoid colliding with them. This way means either slowly steering away, or putting engines in neutral and letting them pass. 
  • All aircraft must maintain a distance of 1,000 feet within a horizontal radius of 300 metres to a whale or dolphin
  • Aircraft must not approach them head-on
  • Helicopters must maintain a distance of 1,650 feet within a horizontal radius of 500 metres to a whale or dolphin

For a complete list of rules and regulations please visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park website

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