Following last year's trial season, humpback whale interaction tours at WA's Ningaloo Reef will once again be offered from August to November.
The trial of humpback whale swim tours is set to continue this year at Ningaloo Reef.
Last year's inaugural trial season, from August to November, saw 1644 people join the tours, while passenger numbers for whale shark tours at Ningaloo saw a boost, increasing by nearly a third.
The humpback tours will continue to be offered by licensed operators with experience in running whale shark tours, and aim to determine the environmental sustainability of the tours and the risks to swimmers and whales, WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob said in a statement.
"The Department of Parks and Wildlife regulates the interactions so the tour operators have rules in place to minimise the risk to swimmers and disturbances to humpback whales, while still ensuring visitors have a unique experience of nature," he said.
Exmouth-based Live Ningaloo is one of the operators involved in the trial, and is already taking bookings for the 2017 on its website.
"We had the most successful tours towards the end of the season in September and October," general manager Sonia Beckwith said.
"We are excited for the year ahead. We will continue to put a (spotter) plane in the air and we put guests in the water with anything that is legal and safe to swim with."
According to Australia's Coral Coast, the tours allow tour operators to extend the whale shark season (usually from March to July in Exmouth and March to June in Coral Bay) into the humpback migration (July to November), making the tours more financially viable.
- For more information on the humpback swim tours, including prices and details of tour companies offering the tours, go to australiascoralcoast.com.