Boating safely

Whales and dolphins

If you encounter whales or dolphins when on the water it can be tempting to go up close for a look. Approaching too close to whales and dolphins is illegal due to safety concerns for the animals. It can also be dangerous as a whale, particularly a female with a young calf, can feel threatened and react unexpectedly.

Keep well clear during mating time, generally during the winter months, as whales get quite boisterous.

Keep your boat well away from any whales and avoid:

  • travelling on a collision course, especially head-on towards a whale or dolphin
  • sudden changes of speed or direction

Specific rules apply to the operation of personal water craft, such as jet skis and wave-runners near dolphins because their speed and manoeuvrability can pose greater risks to whales and dolphins.

Both state and federal laws protect whales and dolphins, including the distances that boats, swimmers and aircraft may approach. The state legislation, currently under review, is the National Parks and Wildlife (Whales and Dolphins) Regulations 2000.

Speed limits are in place for parts of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary for the protection of all water users and marine life. Limits of four knots and seven knots are signed throughout the area.

Port River speed limit map

Related information

On this website

Other websites

National Parks and Wildlife SA - Department for Environment and Heritage


SA Recreational Boating Safety Handbook - Chapter 12 Protecting the environment
(498.4 KB PDF)

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Page last updated 30 April 2019

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