SYDNEY, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Australia's most famous white whale Migaloo swimming under police escort continued its journey to the the upper reaches of the Great Barrier Reef on Friday after tourism operators failed to follow exclusion zones.
Australia's eastern coastline comes alive with acrobatic displays of humpback whales as they migrate north to mate and give birth between June and August, before returning to Antarctic waters between September and November to hunt for krill during the southern hemisphere's summer.
The whale watching season is a boon for tourism operators capitalizing on the recovering humpback whale population that was all but decimated when Australia banned whaling in 1960s, but it's the famed white whale Migaloo that's drawing the attention of punters.
Tourism operators however have got too close, forcing authorities to implement a special 500-meter protection zone around the famed whale to be policed by both Queensland state and federal maritime authorities. Current laws stipulate vessels must stay 100 meters away from any whale, or 300 meters if there are more than three or more vessels around.
"It is very important that all users and operators of aircraft respect the approach limits around all whales as they make their way through Queensland state waters," the state's Environment Minister Steven Miles said.
"Anyone breaking these rules and harassing the whales should be ashamed of themselves."
Breaching those conditions carries a maximum penalty of 20,113.50 Australian dollars for repeat offenders, or an on-the-spot fine of 609 Australian dollars.