Rare White Humpback Whale Spotted Off Coast Of Australia
Australia’s ‘rock star’ white humpback whale Migaloo has been reportedly spotted in New South Wales.
Migaloo is a favourite of whale watchers Down Under. He was first spotted back in 1991 around Hervey Bay, instantly becoming known for his unusual colouring – while he’s one in around 40,000 humpbacks, he always stands out upon sight.
It’s believed that Migaloo, which translates to ‘white fella’ in several indigenous languages, could be taking part in his annual migration from Antarctica to Queensland waters. Fans of the mammal are getting pretty excited, as he could ‘cruise past Sydney’ any time this week.
A Twitter account dedicating to information about the rare animal (@Migaloo1) tweeted on Monday, June 15:
A white whale possibly Migaloo has been sighted along the NSW South Coast heading north. Estimated to cruise past Sydney anytime soon and Cape Byron anytime from Wednesday this week.
A further Instagram account, full of photos of the amazing whale, posted:
A white whale has been sighted 1km offshore from the NSW Central Coast! This photo taken today confirms the sighting, but the quality isn’t good enough to tell whether this is #migaloo. Be on the lookout in #byronbay.
Humpback whales travel from Antarctica to waters off north-east Australia every year between May and November, where they’ll mate before returning south with their offspring.
Dr Vanessa Pirotta, a marine scientist at Macquarie University, urged whale watchers to take the reports with a pinch of salt, telling the MailOnline:
Migaloo is one of around 40,000 humpback whales so essentially it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. So when people see or may have seen this individual people get really excited and start to try and predict his movements.
Migaloo is like the rock star for the ocean world because he’s showing that we should care about the ocean. But also remembering that because he’s so famous we need to be aware of our actions on the water.
Only four other white humpbacks have been discovered since Migaloo: Bahloo, Willow and Migaloo Jnr. Marine experts are still unsure whether fan-favourite mammal is albino or leucistic, the latter meaning he’d still have coloured eyes.
Dr Pirotta says ‘you would have to be quite lucky’ to catch a sight of Migaloo. ‘I’ve only seen him once in my entire career of whale watching. But if anything, going down to the ocean at this time of year to look for whales is a fantastic thing. And you never what you’re going to see,’ she added.
However, don’t get too close if you see him out there in the water: Queensland laws prohibit vessels from coming within 500 metres of Migaloo, with breaches leading to fines of up to $16,500.
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