HUMPBACK whales are appearing off Port Stephens in healthy numbers in the lead-up to national whale day.
Imagine Cruises skipper Frank Future estimates about 40 to 50 humpbacks are passing close inshore at Port Stephens each day heading north.
‘‘Within another two weeks there will be triple this number with more than five whales an hour expected to pass through the islands,’’ he said.
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National Parks and Wildlife Service scientists estimate the east coast population to have recovered to nearly 17,000 humpback whales.
It’s an amazing comeback from the few hundred whales believed to have survived decimation at the hands of whalers at the end of the 1970s.
National whale day, on Saturday, is an initiative of the International Fund For Animal Welfare to celebrate the recovery of humpback whales and their importance to the coastal communities of Australia.
Humpback whales are worth an estimated $5million every year to the Port Stephens economy.