Minke whales draw visitors to Great Barrier Reef
Migrating dwarf minke whales are a bonus attraction on the Great Barrier Reef.
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 in June and July.
A small number of tour boats operate under a special licence offering the opportunity of interacting with the inquisitive little whales.
Interactions are dictated by the minkes, with boat engines cut and set adrift when a pod is spotted.
Live-aboard 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. They will be joined by Spirit of Freedom, which returns 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.
No day on the Great Barrier Reef is the same and as the weather cools the marine life changes.
Frankland Islands Reef Cruises offer adventure snorkel safaris which see manta rays, during May, as well as clownfish, angelfish and green sea turtles all year.
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 trips from 17 July-20 August which can also include two hours on Fitzroy Island where the whales may be seen breaching.