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Whitsundays now a Whale Heritage Site

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THE WORLD Cetacean Alliance has formally designated the Whitsundays as a Whale Heritage Site.

The announcement follows an active community program by Whales of the Whitsundays (WoW), which recognises the importance of the Whitsunday region for humpback whales to calve.

The Whitsundays is only the second such site to be designated in Australia and the first to be designated inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and the only site in the world to be in a UNESCO World Heritage Area.

The certification puts the region on the map, along with Hervey Bay, the only other designated site in Australia.

WoW Program president Olivia Brodhurst said the group was thrilled to join Hervey Bay and only nine other designated Whale Heritage Sites in the world.

“The Whitsundays, with its beautiful fringing reef and calm, protected waters and 75 islands, are clearly the chosen calving grounds for these majestic mammals migrating from the Antarctic,” Ms Brodhurst said.

She said the group was committed to ensuring the harmonious co-existence of whales and the vibrant tourism industry operating in the Whitsundays Whale Heritage Site.

“Continuing to raise awareness to ensure protection of whales is incredibly important, not only directly for the animals, but also for increasing stewardship of the environment,” Ms Brodhurst said.

“Whales are the kind of species that people connect with, are in awe of, and will make lasting changes to protect.”

WoW holds annual community events including the ‘Welcome Whale’ event, a cultural celebration of the start of whale Season in the Whitsundays.

This year’s event will be on June 14, on the Airlie Beach Foreshore, and is expected to be a unifying and breathtaking dive into the world of whales.

WoW liaises with leading citizen science programs and provides educational opportunities for local tourism operators and members of the public, to provide vital research on humpback whales, including collecting whale song using hydrophones.

The Whale Heritage Site program promotes global best practice for destinations with cetaceans (whales, dolphin and porpoises) that champion whales, dolphins, porpoises and their ocean habitats.

The WoW is supported by corporate sponsors Coral Sea Marina, Cruise Whitsundays, Zig Zag, Whitsunday Sailing and NautiLass Apparel.

For more information visit www.wildlifeheritageareas.org/explore-areas/whitsundays-whale-heritagearea or email info@whitsundayenvironmental.co.

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