Enjoy a whale tale at Aquarium’s new educational experience

Published in the June-July 2017 issue

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As the weather cools down, the whale watching season is heating up, making it the ideal time to learn more about these magnificent creatures at the Solitary Islands Aquarium.

The world-class research aquarium was recently named one of Coffs Harbour’s best attractions on TripAdvisor, based on consistently great reviews, feedback and recognition.

(L-R) Lanie, Isla and Eden Hazeltine at the Solitary Islands Aquarium

Engagement Activities Manager Stephan Soule at Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) said the Aquarium, which is open to the public every Saturday and Sunday as well as every day during the NSW School Holidays, now offered a new educational whale experience.

“So far this has been a stellar whale migration season, which will continue right through until November,” Mr Soule said.

“The Solitary Islands Aquarium is 125 metres from the beach on Bay Drive, so we are encouraging families to come to the Marine Science Centre to learn about these great creatures before heading to Charlesworth Bay and the local headlands to spot the whales.

“There’s a designated, 60 km long Coffs Harbour Coastal Walk maintained by NSW National Parks, which is also a great way to see the whales and enjoy the beautiful coastal environment.”

Mr Soule said humpback and southern right whales make the 10,000 km journey up to the Coral Sea around Hervey Bay to mate and have their babies during winter, leaving the rich feeding grounds of the Antarctic waters where they spend the warmer months of the year.

“This is the biggest migration of any mammal, and they do it because it would be too cold for the calves to be born during the Antarctic winter as there wouldn’t be enough protection from the cold,” Mr Soule said.

“The whales eat up big during the warmer months then they hardly feed at all during their trip, which uses a lot of energy, especially as their babies drink hundreds of litres of milk a day to fatten up for the journey back to Antarctic waters.

“They are truly a magnificent animal.”

Mr Soule said the new infographic display on whale migration at the Aquarium will encourage families to bring their kids to hear from experienced marine scientists and interact with marine creatures.

“Our program is very interactive with hourly fish feeding and talks from trained marine scientists, with a family-orientated experience where people actually learn something in a hands-on environment, which sets us apart from some of the bigger aquariums,” he said.

“We want to give people an appreciation of how rich our marine environment is and also give them a greater awareness of how to take care of the ocean. Visitors can also see and learn about our ongoing world class research, including Southern Cross University’s innovative mangrove jack breeding program.”

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