Australian waters support an array of whales and dolphins – from the giant blue whale, the largest living animal, to the endearing snubfin dolphin, a species found only in Australia.

In all, 45 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise call Australia home, including occasional visitors like the charismatic humpback whale that thrill spectators along our east and west coasts during their annual migrations between our waters and the Southern Ocean.


While Australia is blessed with a wonderful diversity of marine mammals, their lives are not without peril. They face many threats, including:

  • habitat loss and degradation
  • toxic pollution
  • ship strike
  • underwater disturbances from ships, oil and gas operations, and military exercises
  • oil and gas extraction
  • entanglement in fishing gear
  • the impacts of climate change.

Minke whale underwater, Coral Sea
Minke whale underwater, Coral Sea © John Rumney / WWF-Aus

The great whales must contend with these threats while still recovering from a century of commercial whaling that took many species to the brink of extinction. Worse still, Japan, Iceland and Norway continue to hunt certain whale species in contravention of a 1986 IWC moratorium against commercial whaling.


WWF-Australia is actively working to protect our whales by:

  • creating new whale sanctuaries and advocating for a National Network of Whale and Dolphins Sanctuaries
  • supporting research to fill critical knowledge gaps
  • building the conservation agenda of the International Whaling Commission
  • working to preserve the moratorium against commercial whaling and end whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Watch WWF in action!

Scientists are racing against time to discover more about the lives of our great whales in the Southern Ocean to ensure their protection for generations to come.