Migaloo

Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) is pleased to offer this website as a means of documenting the activities of Migaloo, the only documented albino humpback whale in the world.

Migaloo is perhaps the most famous humpback whale in the world. His distinctive absence of pigmentation due to albinism allows people to easily identify him and report sightings. He was first spotted in 1991 off Byron Bay, Queensland by a group of volunteers conducting a whale count. The first photograph of Migaloo was taken through a telescope from a distance of over 5km away. It was blurry and unclear if he was all white. In 1993 PWF researchers encountered this amazing white whale in Hervey Bay, Queensland. During our first encountered we were able confirm the whale was all white, and in 1998 PWF recorded the whale singing, a trait distinct to male humpback whales. Read our research paper on Migaloo >

After sharing our remarkable discovery with the public, there was an outcry to ‘name the whale’. Dr. Paul Forestell (then PWF Research Director now Board Member) and PWF Founder and Executive Director Greg Kaufman decided the naming of the whale should be done by the elders of the local aboriginal collective in Hervey Bay. After conferring with Dr. Forestell and examining images of the white whale, they asked to have a few days to consider a name. Ultimately they named the white whale “Migaloo” or “white fella”. The elders further explained their connection to all white or albino animals and that they appear on earth to be respected and revered, that their unique color demonstrates the need to respect all forms of life even if they appear different than ‘normal’. They should be honored with reverence and respect not discrimination and shame.

Since this initial encounter Migaloo has been seen dozens of times. PWF researchers estimated he was 8 – 10 years at time of initial sighting making him approximately 32-36 years old in 2015. He has been observed in New Zealand waters but primarily off east Australia migrating as far north as Cooktown and south past Sydney.

Migaloo is a member of the east Australian population of humpback whales. Migaloo’s population of humpback whales feed in Antarctica from November to April and migrates along the east coast of Australia to breed near the Great Barrier Reef from May to October.

Scientists were initially skeptical to state Migaloo has albinism because his eyes are brown, rather than the typical red or pink. In the past he has been called the more conservative terms “all-white”, or “hypo-pigmented”. However, a 2011 study of his DNA by researchers at the Australian Marine Mammal Centre found a genetic variation leading to albinism.

Genetic testing confirmed another fact about Migaloo: he is a male. Scientists already knew this to be the case because of his song. While both male and female humpback whales can produce sounds, only the males sing songs. In 1998 researchers first recorded Migaloo singing, thus indicating he is a male. This was confirmed by genetic testing in 2004.

Are there other predominately white humpback whales in the world’s oceans? Yes, PWF researchers have observed whales that are over 90% white off east Australia, and in 2011 observed a newborn nearly all white male calf in the Whitsundays. This whale was named Chalkie and some have called him Migaloo Junior, however is not known to be the offspring of Migaloo – they may or may not be related. Chalkie does have one small black dot on the dorsal surface of his left fluke making him not quite all white meaning he does not have albinism. Recently a video of what appears to be an all white humpback whale feeding in waters off Norway was released on the internet which depicts a whale that looks like Migaloo, until the whale lifts its tail to dive and its fluke pattern is 75% black! There have also been sightings of white orcas, a white right whale and a bottlenose dolphin with albinism throughout the years.

If you would like to support Pacific Whale Foundation by “adopting” Migaloo, visit the Adopt-A-Whale program.

Send us your Migaloo sightings and photos – we'll post them here!

All photographs copyright Pacific Whale Foundation.


The Migaloo mystery: Confusion over rare white whale spotted near Australia

By Jenni Ryall
Australia
August 16, 2015

"It is Migaloo."

Those are the words of a leading scientist who is 100% convinced the white whale spotted off the coast of Australia on Aug. 10 is the world famous albino humpback, Migaloo.

Executive director and chief scientist at the Pacific Whale Foundation, Greg Kaufman, who has been studying Migaloo for decades, confirmed to Mashable Australia that the whale spotted off the Gold Coast, Australia earlier this week is the beloved creature.

This claim has been disputed by other whale experts — and only a DNA test, taken in July and with results expected shortly, will conclusively prove it.

Continue reading this article from Mashable here:
http://mashable.com/2015/08/16/migaloo-the-mystery-whale/


Whale debate: Was it Migaloo or not?

NICHOLAS MCELROY
GOLD COAST BULLETIN
August 11, 2015

A MAJESTIC white whale swam past the Gold Coast yesterday but marine experts can’t agree on whether it was the famed Migaloo or an upstart challenger to his title.

The experts spent much of yesterday studying the physical features of the giant marine mammal which appeared to glow as it swam about three nautical miles off Coast beaches.

Despite detailed images of the creature’s colouring, dorsal fin and tail flukes and notches, scientists and whale enthusiasts could only agree to disagree.

Continue reading this article here:
http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/lifestyle/pets-and-wildlife/whale-debate-was-it-migaloo-or-not/story-fnk74alk-1227477966061



Albino whale 'Migaloo' spotted on annual leave

August 5, 2007
Migaloo, Australia's best-known white humpback whale, was spotted off Cape Tribulation in north Queensland yesterday, close to the end of his annual winter migration up the east coast. The world famous whale was spotted by the crew of Silversonic, a dive boat taking tourists to Agincourt Reef off Port Douglas, just after 9am. He was cruising near Undine Cay about 9 nautical miles off shore.


Albino whale 'Migaloo' spotted on annual leave

Migaloo the white whale spotted off Qld coast

July 24, 2007
The most famous white whale in the world, Migaloo, has today been spotted frolicking off waters in Queensland's far north.


Migaloo the white whale spotted off Qld coast

Migaloo was sighted off Pickersgill Reef 90 nautical miles north of Cairnsa

June 25, 2007
Marc McCormack, a photographer with the Cairns Post, reports that Migaloo was sighted off Pickersgill Reef 90 nautical miles north of Cairns. The sighted described Migaloo swimming with three other humpback whales.


Migaloo was sighted off Pickersgill Reef 90 nautical miles north of Cairnsa

Respect distance around Migaloo

July 8, 2007
Migaloo the white humpback whale is reported to have entered Queensland waters on his 2007 migration, but it could be very costly if people try to get too close. Environment Minister Lindy Nelson-Carr has declared Migaloo a special interest whale in Queensland waters to ensure he can swim freely and safely.


Respect distance around Migaloo

Abandoned South African humpback whale returns

(not Migaloo)
July 7, 2007
The prodigal humpback whale that was “abandoned” at Coega by its mother one and a half years ago seems to have returned – and is still doing strange things. In October 2005, several witnesses described how a humpback calf – apparently the same one photographed on Monday – arrived at Coega with its mother and then was left behind. Despite predictions that it would die without its mother‘s milk, it survived, apparently feeding on swarms of shrimp-like krill.


Abandoned South African humpback whale returns

A whale of a time

July 5, 2007
Queenslanders are being urged to spend a winter weekend in their own backyard getting up close and personal with humpback whales. A new $250,000 advertising blitz launched yesterday seeks to lure Queenslanders to Hervey Bay, in the state's south-east corner, to watch the majestic mammals' annual winter migration.

White whale prompts ADF to consider training site move

Thu Jun 28, 2007
Migaloo has been spotted swimming towards Shoalwater Bay and there are fears sonar equipment used in naval exercises could cause him to beach. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) says it is considering moving future military exercises away from Queensland's environmentally sensitive Shoalwater Bay area.


White whale prompts ADF to consider training site move

Migaloo the White Whale frustrates US-Australian War Games

28.06.2007
Migaloo, the white humpback whale, is forcing the USA and Australian military forces to reconsider using the Great Barrier reef for war games. The USA and Australian Defence forces have faced down a civil disobedience peace campaign against their Talisman Sabre War Games, from June 19 to July 2, at Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, only to come up against the white whale!


Migaloo the White Whale frustrates US-Australian War Games

Rare white humpback whale, Migaloo, spotted

Tue Jun 26, 2007
Record numbers of humpback whales are on their annual migration up Australia's east coast, including the rare white whale Migaloo, scientists say. Migaloo was spotted this week off Heron Island, on Queensland's central coast, by resort staff on a fishing trip. Ben Friese, who was one of the lucky few on board, described the close encounter with the 14m whale as a "one-in-a-million chance".


Rare white humpback whale, Migaloo, spotted

Whale of a time for Migaloo

June 26, 2007
Migaloo the white whale has sparked a fresh whale-watching frenzy after being spotted frolicking off Heron Island off the central Queensland coast. The elusive albino – believed to be the only pure-white humpback in the world – has been a magnet for whale watchers since his first sighting off the Tweed coast in northern New South Wales in 1991. Channel 9’s latest footage of Migaloo – Aboriginal for ``white fella’’ – comes just days after the 14m white humpback was spotted off Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island.

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