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



Fans told to give Migaloo wide berth

23jun04 – MIGALOO the white humpback has been declared a whale of special interest to ensure safe passage during his annual migration through Queensland waters. The declaration took effect yesterday.


Fans told to give Migaloo wide berth

Leave the rare humpback alone, says LI professor

Paul Forestell will never forget his first encounter with the rare white whale Migaloo, who has been at the center of an international hullabaloo in recent days. It was in 1992, when Forestell, now a professor at Southampton College of Long Island University, was working on a project about humpback whales in Australia. Forestell had seen thousands of humpbacks in the wild. He believed he knew what to expect. Then he spotted the white whale in Hervey Bay, north of Brisbane. "I thought it would be this shoddy, scratched up whale," he says. "This thing glowed in the water.

Experts on Rare All-White Humpback Whale Ask World to "Give Him Space"

"We are concerned about the well-being of this unusual and beautiful whale," says Greg Kaufman, President and founder of Pacific Whale Foundation. "This year, the attention to the whale has reached astounding proportions, and the whale is becoming victimized by his star status."


Experts on Rare All-White Humpback Whale Ask World to "Give Him Space"

Call for sightings of Migaloo

Researchers from Queensland's Environmental Protection Agency are on the lookout for Migaloo the white whale so that further information about him can be gathered. Environment Minister Dean Wells said EPA researchers wanted to find the whale, both for scientific purposes and to allow a follow-up health check after his recent collision with a trimaran. "If anybody spots the whale I ask them to report the location to the marine strandings hotline on 1-300-360-898." Mr Wells said scientists were particularly interested in retrieving a skin sample, which would allow DNA testing to be conducted.

White whale tracked for DNA

The Queensland government said today it would allow researchers to track down and obtain a DNA sample from Migaloo


White whale tracked for DNA

No evasive action possible before impact

One injured whale has again sent east coast Australians into a frenzy. The whale, a rare specimen belonging to a species of the world's only albino whale group is apparently badly injured after being struck by a boat. The pearly-white humpback, who's called "Migaloo", has been seen on just a handful of occasions, and reappeared only recently, on her way to breeding grounds on the Great Barrier Reef. But now a large-scale search has been launched for "Migaloo", and the skipper who hit him says it wasn't his fault.

Scientists plan to track the rare white whale Migaloo

The Queensland Government is moving to protect Migaloo, the world's only known white humpback whale, by fitting it with a radio-tracking device. Environment Minister Dean Wells says that after a yacht hit the whale off Townsville, the government has decided to do more to protect it.


Scientists plan to track the rare white whale Migaloo

Search finds white whale

Migaloo was spotted by a boat operator 7 nautical miles south-southeast of Palm Island just after lunch yesterday. Late yesterday afternoon, State Environment Minister Dean Wells formally extended a special protection order which has declared the whale an animal of special interest. An aerial sighting of Migaloo found it was swimming with another whale.


Search finds white whale

Rare whale lives life of mystery

Herman Melville's fictional white whale in "Moby Dick" was a sperm whale, a rare member of that species that lacked pigmentation. There are naturally white whales, notably the beluga, which starts life gray and turns white as it gets older. But white whales are unusual. What about white humpbacks? "There has never been a documented occurrence of an albino humpback whale anywhere in the world," said Paul Forestell of the Pacific Whale Foundation.


Rare whale lives life of mystery

White-whale watchers facing fine

Whale watchers keen to get a glimpse of the albino humpback migrating north along the Queensland coast will have to keep their distance or risk being fined $12,000. Queensland Environment Minister Dean Wells has declared the mammal, which has sparked a high degree of interest since its reappearance, a "special interest whale."


White-whale watchers facing fine

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