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Tuesday 25 May 2021

A brief chance to get up close and personal with dwarf minke whales

For just a couple of months each two months every year - in June and July - Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the only place in the world where you can swim with dwarf minke whales.

Dwarf minke whale diving and snorkelling trips from Cairns to the Ribbon Reefs north of Port Douglas are a highlight of the Great Barrier Reef calendar, happening at the peak of the whales' annual migration.

Just a handful of tour boats operate under a special licence offering people the chance to interact with the little whales. Interactions are purely dictated by the minkes, with boat engines cut when a pod is spotted. 

Liveaboard expeditions to the Ribbon Reefs only depart in June and July, typically for three to seven days, with just Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, Divers Den and Pro Dive operating this year and all three, along with Spirit of Freedom, returning in 2022.  

Calypso Reef Cruises and Quicksilver's Silversonic take divers and snorkellers on day trips from Port Douglas to the Ribbon Reefs and both are permitted to allow passengers to enter the water with the dwarf minke whales if they encounter them.

F5rankland Islands Reef Cruises offer adventure snorkel safaris which regularly see manta rays in May as well as the clownfish, angelfish and green sea turtles seen year round. 

During July and August passengers travelling to the Great Barrier Reef often see humpback whales playing in the warm waters during their migration north. 

Cairns Whale Watching Tours offers dedicated whale watching tours from July 17 to August 20, which can also include two hours on Fitzroy Island where the whales may be seen breaching. 

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