Dolphin & Whale Watching Guidelines With Imagine Cruises

Imagine Cruises of Nelson Bay on Port Stephens supports the Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Observation. Essentially, we do not want whales or dolphins to interact with us unless they want to.

Migaloo – A Rare Albino White Humpback Whale

The best thing about a dolphin or whale watching cruise on Imagine Cruises is that when the dolphins & whales can come up close to check us out, as they often do, it is because these intelligent creatures choose to do so. On almost all of Imagine Cruises dolphin watching cruises, the dolphins come close to the boat. Often the dolphins ride along and play in the bow wave.

There are strict regulations that are important to respect when watching both dolphins or whales. The recommended distance for watching Bottlenose Dolphins is 30 metres. Whale watching boats must not approach adult males closer than a distance of 100 metres (200 metres for mothers with calves).

Imagine Cruises – Feeding The Dolphins Guidelines

Imagine Cruises is committed to the preservation of dolphins & whales in a natural environment. When on a dolphin watching tour with Imagine Cruises we ask that you do not feed the dolphins in Port Stephens. – so that they are truly wild and free.

Imagine Cruises – Swimming With Dolphins Guidelines

We do not seek to swim with the dolphins on Imagine. Apart from a few specially licensed cruises that we do each year with a dolphin researcher, the practice of swimming with dolphins is not encouraged. If you are in the water accidentally with dolphins, as sometimes occurs on our Snorkeling Cruise, do not swim towards them, but let them find their own way around you. The experience is likely to be more rewarding for you this way.

Dolphin & Whale Watching – The Caution Zone

Within 300 metres of a whale or 150 metres of a dolphin, boats are required to move at a constant, slow speed. If there are any whale calves present, we can only approach to within 200 metres.

Dolphin & Whale Watching – Approach Limits

We are not allowed to approach within 100m of a whale or 50m of a dolphin. We must approach from a direction parallel to the direction of movement of the whales and slightly to their rear. Other rules include:

  • Avoiding sudden or repeated changes in speed or direction
  • When stopping to watch whales or dolphins we either place the engines in neutral or allow the motor to idle for one minute before switching off. Unless the dolphins are approaching to ride the bow
  • We must not box them in, cut off their path, or prevent them from leaving
  • When leaving whales, we must move off slowly until we are at least 300m away

Whalewatching rules boats approach to whales
Illustration showing whale watching rules for boats.
Image © NPWS

Imagine Cruises – Commited to Responsible Eco-tourism

Imagine Cruises have also made some major modifications to Imagine in 2003 that halved our engine noise and vibrations, to further reduce our impact on the whales and dolphins.

On occasion, dolphins may approach guests in our boom net. If they do come close we ask guests not to reach out suddenly as this will often scare them away.

Dolphin & whale watching tours in Port Stephens…
Read more about whalewatching in NSW Australia…