PORT Authority of New South Wales is to help lead the annual operation to keep curious whales safe when they enter busy Sydney Harbour.

Up to 40,000 humpback whales are estimated to pass by the NSW coastline this year, with around 2000 passing close enough to see from land.

Port Authority of New South Wales works closely with a network of agencies and organisations to reduce their chance of injury or distress from vessels.

Port Authority’s Vessel Traffic Services team help ships navigate safely and warn of potential dangers.

When reports of a whale in harbour come in, the VTS team sends out warnings to all vessels across the harbour to keep watch and stay away.

Vessels must keep a distance of at least 100 metres from whales (300metres if a whale calf is present), while vessels that can make fast and erratic movements such as jet skis or parasail boats, must stay at least 300 metres away.

Vessels must travel at a constant slow speed, leave a negligible wake and no more than two vessels are allowed to approach a whale at the same time.

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Boat owners should find out the safest way to approach marine mammals in NSW before they head out whale watching this winter.

Sightings of any injured or stranded marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and seals, can be reported to wildlife rescue charity ORRCA on 02 9415 3333.

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