SwiM with whales on the great barrier reef

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The aggregation of these inquisitive whales is a newly discovered phenomenon. In the early 80‘s Dr. Peter Arnold (Museum of Tropical Queensland) and Dr. Alastair Birtles (James Cook University) began to receive reports about mysterious whales that approached divers - sometimes within a few feet. They were later found to be a small, previously unknown type of whale - a dwarf minke whale.


The behaviours, biology and ecology of these enigmatic animals remain poorly understood and are the subject of increasing research and media attention. In 1995 a group headed by Dr. Birtles, Dr. Arnold and John Rumney (Eye to Eye Marine Encounters) formed the Minke Whale Project and in close collaboration with tourism operators visiting key sites, began detailed studies on dwarf minkes and their interactions with people.

Dwarf minke whales actively seek out and engage snorkelers and divers on the Great Barrier Reef in a wildlife event that happens no-where else on earth.

Each year on the Great Barrier Reef an extraordinary encounter takes place between man and nature. For a few weeks each May-August dwarf minke whales actively seek out and engage with snorkelers and divers in Far North Queensland ‘hotspots’. Scientists don't know why they come here or where they go, but it has been suggested that they use these warm tropical waters for courtship and mating.

Dwarf minke whale, Great Barrier Reef

Photos courtesy of Bryant Austin, John Rumney and Ursular Tscherter

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