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Marine mammals

Few other groups of animals have captured the human imagination more than the marine mammals. This group of animals includes:

  • The blue whale, the largest animal that has ever existed.
  • Oceanic species whose biology and distribution are largely mysteries, with some species only known from a few stranded individuals.
  • Species with unique intelligence, having the ability to communicate over vast distances using a complex system of song that is still largely unfathomed by science.
  • Species so fascinating that an estimated 13 million people across 119 countries pay more than $2.1 billion each year simply to watch them.
  • The species that inspired the largest animal protection movement in history (‘save the whales’) and continues to provoke international protest over concerns about the treatment and exploitation of marine mammals.

There are more than 30 species of marine mammal known from the waters off the Queensland coast. A number of these are commonly encountered in coastal waters or seen from vantage points on land. For some species, like the humpback whale, Queensland waters are critical for mating and giving birth. Others, like the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and dugong, rely on shallow coastal waters and estuaries where they face a range of threats from habitat disturbance and boat traffic.

The Queensland Government has established a balanced approach to managing marine mammals that gives them the protection they need while allowing Queenslanders and visitors to see and experience these animals in ways that are safe and sustainable.

The following information explains how Queensland’s marine mammals are being protected, how you can play your part in their conservation, and, importantly, how you can experience them for yourself.

Last reviewed
15 July 2016
Last updated
10 May 2013