June 27, 2014
Rare Albino Humpback Whale Spotted In Australian Waters
Many animals in this world can have that snowy white skin or fur color, horses, cows, dogs, cats and numerous other animals as well. However, some species having a white color is a rare occurrence and this phenomenon is called albinism. One species in particular is whales.
Back in 1991, an albino humpback whale was spotted for the first time, and since then, the whale’s movements have been tracked. The rare whale was nicknamed “Migaloo,” and was thought to be a one of a kind creature. However, in 2011 another albino humpback was seen by whale watchers who named him “Migaloo Junior.”
On Tuesday, Migaloo was seen for the first time this year off the coast of Green Cape, New South Wales, Australia. Footage was taken via a mobile phone’s camera and the White Whale Research Center’s Oskar Peterson verified that it was indeed the rare whale.
“He sort of glows in the water like a fluorescent blue. He’s quite an amazing sight,” Peterson told ABC News Australia.
John Fowler, the skipper of Port-based Adventure Cruises mentioned it was the first time he has seen Migaloo in 11 years of whale watching.
“We started in 2003 and since then we’ve been running well over 10,000 trips and I’ve never seen Migaloo yet. From 500 [meters] you could see quite clearly it was Migaloo the white whale. It was raising its back up quite well out of the water as Humpbacks do,” Fowler said.
“It did about half a dozen tail slaps on its tummy and then it rolled upside down and gave us another show with half a dozen tail slaps lying on its back. It was a beautiful experience,” he described.
Fowler received many reports that Migaloo was in the area. “There was a lot of reports that he was coming past Sydney, Port Stephens, Crowdy Bay. Everyone knew he was going to be here at that time and National Parks were on the headland at Tacking Point lighthouse as well to advise people that he was just about to arrive,” he added.
This is the third year in a row Migaloo has been seen on his annual migration. Peterson, who also has a website that tracks sightings of white whales said, “We have photos of a junior Migaloo from a few years ago, but we haven’t seen him since so we don’t know if he survived the South Ocean. But there is a 100% white whale we’ve seen photographic proof of in Norway, so Migaloo isn’t quite as unique as we once thought.”
Migaloo makes an annual migration journey from the Antarctic to the Great Barrier Reef, where he will breed. However, it’s not every year he is spotted in Australia, so it is a treat when he passes through.
“The helicopter crews are all out photographing him today. He’s giving us all quite a parade this year,” Peterson added.
Experts say that migrating male humpbacks can travel as much as 87 miles a day and that sight seers are asked to stay at least 1,500 feet away to ensure the whale’s survival. Too much noise and chasing the whale can cause him to use needed energy for his yearly journey.
According to researchers, Migaloo is currently around 20 years old. Humpbacks have been known to live to as old as 90, so this yearly sighting can be enjoyed for many decades to come.
Image Credit: Cruise Adventures