A state conservation regulator has urged whale-watchers to keep their distance or risk hefty fines, prompted by a spike in social media videos featuring swimmers, surfers, and people in boats getting "too close". Tik Tok and Instagram users filming and sharing up-close footage of whales are threatening the animals' welfare and encouraging dangerous interactions, the Victorian Conservation Regulation said. The regulator will kick off on-water patrols in September to ensure spectators are keeping their distance from whales and other marine mammals, with potential fines of up to $3698 for those not complying. Chief Conservation Regulator Kate Gavens said ignoring the rules for photos or social media likes was "completely unacceptable". Marine mammal rescue group ORRCA Vice President Jools Farrell said too many people ignore the minimum distance required to keep the animals safe. "Unfortunately it does happen, and it happens way too often," Ms Farrell said. As the whales' southern migration hots up, we're likely to see more animals hugging the coastline, and it's vital whale watchers know the rules of engagement, Ms Farrell said. "If you're in a vessel, you must stay 100 metres away from a whale," she said. "If it has a calf, you need to stay 300 metres away, and if you're fortunate enough to come across Migaloo or a white whale, it's 500 metres away." These rules apply to any vessel, including a kayak, a canoe, and a surfboard. If whale watchers flout the rules, it can cause stress for the animals and a risk of collision, Ms Farrell said. "If they do have a calf with them, the mother will try to get away and that will put pressure on the calf to keep up with their mum, and that will exhaust the calf," she said. As well as keeping a safe distance, Ms Farrell said there are several safety tips to keep in mind when you're lucky enough to see a whale. If a whale is migrating toward you, don't wait in front of them, and don't approach them from behind - they can see this as a threat, she said. Instead, slow down to a no-wash speed, and either disengage your vessel's gears or move away slowly. Minimise noise where possible, as whales have incredible hearing, Ms Farrell said. Drones should be flown at least 100 metres away from whales at all times, as the sound can disturb them. She encouraged the public to enjoy the beauty of a whale sighting, but "enjoy them from a distance". If members of the public find trapped or beached marine animals, they can call ORRCA's rescue line on 02 9415 3333.