Get ready for a whale of a time
IT'S time to dust off the binoculars - the humpback whale migration has started very early this year.
It's only March but a few have already been spotted along the mid-NSW coast, so it won't be long before they arrive here.
The usual whale-watching season is from June to September as they head north to warmer waters to breed then return south with new calves to feed in colder waters.
Humpback numbers have been increasing dramatically over recent years and Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre director, Professor Peter Harrison, said that meant some whales would start migrating earlier and others would return later.
"The season is extending," he said. "We are expecting between 15,000 and 16,000 whales to head north this year, which is fantastic.
"Numbers are increasing by about 1000 a year.
"We will see more whales during the peak periods, but also groups earlier and later in the season."
News spreads quickly through social media and a phone app from National Parks and Wildlife.
Earlier in the week this tweet was posted by Wild About Whales, run by NPWS: "Wooohoo! The humpback whales are back. Early eager whales spotted off the mid NSW coast late last week & sat. migration begins".
There are plenty of great local vantage points.
The best spots include Lennox Head and Skennars Head head- lands, Cape Byron and the Lighthouse Beach lookout at Ballina.
Watch for whales
Follow Wild About Whales on Twitter @wildaboutwhales
Log your sightings on the interactive map
Download the smart phone app and log sightings on the go.
If you catch a whale on camera, let The Northern Star show everyone else.
Send a jpg to firstname.lastname@example.org.