A 20 kilometre speed limit on the Forster Tuncurry bridge and its approaches could be enforced at any time over the next few days or so, as experts try to shepherd a southern right whale under the bridge and out to sea.
Forster Tuncurry motorists are being asked to be prepared for the reduced speed limit and a possible temporary closure with short delays, which will occur when the whale is approaching to underpass the bridge.
Right Whale attempts to leave Wallis Lake under Forster Tuncurry bridge. Image by Shane Chalker Photography (via Midcoast Council)
It’s believed the southern right whale that’s been visiting Wallis Lake this week is being spooked by vibrations from traffic crossing the busy bridge. At some point, experts will try to shepherd the whale out under the bridge so it can return to the ocean and continue its northern migration.
When that happens, reduced speed limits and a possible temporary bridge closure will be in place, to try to reduce vibration as much as possible while our friend crosses underneath.
Transport NSW, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and MidCoast Council are working closely together to help secure the safe passage of the whale to the sea.
There is also an exclusion zone on the water for boats and marine vessels, with officials advising at boat ramps around the waterway.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service made a special protection Order on Tuesday, after a southern right whale entered Wallis Lake near Forster Tuncurry.
The Order prevents anyone approaching within 500 metres of the endangered southern right whale. This applies to all forms of transport including boats, aircraft and drones as well as swimmers and prevents people congregating on the Forster Tuncurry bridge.
This is the first time an Order of this kind has been made and fines apply.
The south eastern Australia population of the southern right whale is highly endangered, with around 270 individuals left including only 68 breeding females. As few as 30 southern right whales enter NSW waters every year.
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