Hundreds of people are expected to converge on a beach at Port Stephens to form a ‘human humpback whale’, as part of celebrations for the official start of the whale-watching season.
The giant whale was first formed on the beach at Shoal Bay in 2010, and this year is expected to attract around 700 people keen to take part.
Cruise boat operator, Frank Future, says whale watching injects an estimated $10 million into the region’s economy each year and the mammals are becoming a common sight off the coast.
“People who are older, like myself, we didn’t get to see whales until about the early 80s,” he said.
“So kids growing up now just take it for granted we have whales this time of year.
“But I never saw any whales until around the late 1980s when I was caretaking a lighthouse off Port Stephens and that’s because there weren’t any, the whalers had knocked them all off.”
Mr Future says there are already significant numbers of the mammals moving up the coast.
He says this season is significant because it will be the first since the International Court of Justice made a landmark ruling to stop Japanese ‘scientific’ whaling.
But he says the victory may be short-lived.
“They’ve said that they’ll comply and this year they probably will.
“But some of my colleagues in Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace have indicated they’ll probably be back to their old ways and call it something else the following year.
“But at least for the moment we’re celebrating a win in the court.”