Dwarf minke whales visit the northern Great Barrier Reef each Australian winter, forming the only known predictable aggregation of these whales in the world. Growing up to eight metres and weighing several tonnes, they are exceptionally inquisitive and often approach boats, divers and snorkelers closely, sometimes interacting for extended periods. Swimming with dwarf minke whales is an extraordinary wildlife tourism experience, dwarf minke whales behave unlike most other whales and show exceptional interest in humans. These highly inquisitive whales often approach boats, divers and snorkelers very closely, and occasionally stay in close proximity and interact for many hours.
The Minke Whale Project (based at James Cook University, North Queensland Australia) conducts research into dwarf minke whale biology and behaviour, the social and economic values of the whales and the sustainable management of swim-with-whales tourism conducted on the northern (Ribbon Reef) section of the Great Barrier Reef. The Minke Whale Project research team works collaboratively with the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry, reef managers and conservation groups to ensure that minke whale encounters are conducted sustainably.
Tourism operators must have an endorsement from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to conduct swims with dwarf minke whales in the Great Barrier Reef. For a list of current swim-with-whales endorsed operators, please visit the GBRMPA Website.
The Minke Whale Project Fund is a non-profit research fund set up by James Cook University to support research into dwarf minke whale biology, behaviour and sustainable tourism interactions. Donations can be tax deductible for Australian residents. Click here to find out more or to make a donation and become a Friend of the Minke Whale Project. They also have a brand news website: http://www.minkewhaleproject.org/
The Friends of the Minke Whale Project Facebook group provides a friendly forum for sharing minke whale-related news articles, photos, stories and updates from the minke whale season. All are welcome to join.
The Minke Whale Project is supported by many organisations and lots of wonderful people. Including: James Cook University, the Museum of Tropical Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and wildlife conservation NGOs including the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Our research would not be possible without support from the swim-with-whales endorsed tourism operators, represented by the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reef Operators’ Association. Support is also provided each minke whale season by Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Deep Sea Divers Den who donate berths for minke whale volunteer researchers on their vessels to observe Minke whale interactions.