The rules for watching whales and dolphins

It is important to know the rules for watching humpback whales and dolphins in the open ocean. These rules are not only for the health and safety of the animals, but also to ensure people are safe and secure in their boats. Remember that it is us (boats and humans) who are in the way of these majestic creatures.

CAUTION ZONE: The ‘caution’ zone is an area surrounding a whale or dolphin in which boats cannot travel at speeds of more than 6 knots or speeds that create a wake. The caution zone extends out 300 metres from a whale, and 150 metres from a dolphin.

NO APPROACH ZONE: Within a caution zone there are areas designated as ‘no approach’ zones that boats cannot enter. These are the areas closest to an animal and directly in front of and behind an animal. These zones cover 100m around and 300m directly in front and behind the whale; and, 50m around and 150m in front and behind the whale.

3-BOAT RULE: A boat cannot enter a caution zone if three boats are already present within the caution zone of an animal.

To protect the marine mammals:

  • Never restrict the path of a marine mammal or cause it to change direction.
  • Never drive a boat into a pod or herd of marine mammals causing it to divide into smaller groups.
  • Do not deposit rubbish near, make a loud or sudden noise near, or attempt to touch or feed a marine mammal, unless it is part of an authorised dolphin feeding program.


CLICK HERE for the complete rules from the Queensland Government.