Featured Image Credit: Migaloo the Whale via Twitter
Right around this time of year, many humpback whales are making their annual migration and swimming their way North to warmer waters. “They’re up here to calve and to mate because obviously, they can’t have the calves in the cold water because they are born with no fat on them,” Trevor Long, Director of Marine Sciences at Sea World Gold Coast told the Australian Associated Press.
One whale, however, stands out among the crowd for his brilliant white skin.
Named by the Australian Aboriginal community elders in Queensland, “Migaloo” simply translates to “White Fella”. Now an adult male, the beautiful creature was first spotted in 1991 off Byron Bay in Australia and was believed to be between three to five years old, then.
Although there’s no denying the white whale his creds, there’s no definitive evidence that Migaloo is a true albino and so instead is known as a “hypo-pigmented” humpback.
In 2003, Migaloo was struck by a trimaran, and due to that has a somewhat crooked fin and scars from the collision on his back. “He got ran into by a trimaran so he has some scars on the left side, and he also has an unusual hook on his back,” Oskar Peterson, founder of the White Whale Research Centre has reported.
While there are already guidelines in place to protect humpback whales in Australian waters, since Migaloo’s such a rarity, he gets a little bit of celebrity treatment. Last year, a vessel got a little bit too close to the whale, and he was then given a Parks and Wildlife escort the rest of his way to the Great Barrier Reef.
In addition to the laws keeping humpbacks safe, which include slow approach speeds within 300 meters and a no-approach distance of 100 meters when a whale is nearby (300 meters if a calf among the pod), there are extra laws in place to protect Migaloo himself. All vessels (including jet skis) are not allowed to approach Migaloo by 500 meters, and aircrafts can get no lower than 2000 feet, with fines of $16,500.
This is far from the first sighting of the majestic creature, having even been photographed underwater late last year.
We hope that Migaloo stays safe, and shows up for years to come!