Great Barrier Reef Region Guide

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Dwarf Minke Whales

Updated: 15-Feb-2007

During the months of June, July and August of each year there is the amazing opportunity to encounter Dwarf Minke Whales whilst on their migration path.

The Dwarf Minke Whale is the smallest of the baleen whales growing up to 7 metres in length and weighing up to 10 tonnes. Although they are termed "ship seeker" or in other words very friendly and not afraid of human contact, they choose to travel solitary or in pairs/small groups.


A population of 100 or more Dwarf Minke whales can be found moving their way through the Ribbon Reefs during this migration time.


The Dwarf Minke is the only species of whale at present, with which humans are allowed purposeful in the water interaction. You are likely to see these whales approach the vessel and interact with guests on board by jumping, breaching, spy hopping (poking one eye out of the water to look at you) or presenting their belly!

These friendly mammals will play and interact with snorkellers for up to 3 hours at a time.


Anyone fortunate enough to be visiting Port Douglas between June and August has a unique opportunity to swim with Dwarf Minke Whales during day trips onboard Poseidon III.


Poseidon holds one of only three permits issued to day boats by the marine park managers, GBRMPA, allowing passengers to deliberately swim with these curious and friendly whales that grow to 8 meters in length.


Swimmers in groups of ten are sent out along a floating line once whales have been seen near the boat. And no weight belts, scuba gear or flash photography is permitted.

By following this passive approach, invariably the whales swim close to the swimmers to satisfy their own curiosity, often staying close by for over an hour until the boat finally has to move on to the next site.


On one recent encounter on Poseidon at the Agincourt Reefs, a single female whale was passing within 2 meters of the swimmers displaying her belly and then putting her whole head out of the water to look at the passengers on the boat, a process known as “Spy Hopping” later when Poseidon moved off, she then followed the boat to the next stop!


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