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, wave-runners near dolphins because their speed and manoeuvrability  can pose greater risks to these gentle creatures.

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

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 15 September 2017

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