Migaloo

Published July 2, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

A presumably albino humpback whale that travels up and down the east coast of Australia has become famous in the local media, on account of its extremely rare all-white appearance. Migaloo is the only known all-white humpback whale in the world. The whale, first sighted in 1991 and believed to be 3–5 years old at that time, is called Migaloo (a word for “white fella” from one of the languages of the Indigenous Australians). Speculation about the whale’s gender was resolved in October 2004 when researchers from Southern Cross University collected sloughed skin samples from Migaloo as he migrated past Lennox Head, and subsequent genetic analysis of the samples proved he is a male. Because of the intense interest, environmentalists feared that the number of boats following it each day was distressing the whale. In response, the Queensland and New South Wales governments introduce legislation each year to order the maintenance of a 500 m (1,600 ft) exclusion zone around the whale. Recent close up pictures have shown Migaloo to have skin cancer and/or skin cysts because of his lack of protection from the sun.

Humpback Whale

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