Migaloo was first spotted in 1991 passing through Byron Bay. Image Credit: Craig Parry

Everything you need to know about Migaloo

  • BY AG Staff |
  • July 17, 2017

Migaloo the white whale was first spotted in 1991.

MOST RECENTLY spotted off the Gold Coast, Migaloo has long captivated both seasoned and amateur whale watchers, all hoping to sight this unique white whale.

Here's everything you need to know about the spectacular marine creature. 

migaloo

(Image Credit: Craig Parry, Whale Watching Sydney)

  • Migaloo is an adult white male humpback whale, estimated to have been born in 1986.
  • He was first spotted in 1991 passing through Byron Bay.
  • It’s estimated that Migaloo was 3-5 years old when he was first sighted.
  • Migaloo has brown eyes and his white exterior shows some signs of sun damage.
  • When Migaloo was first sighted he was the only known white whale in the world.
  • Migaloo’s song was first recorded in 1998, which convinced researchers that Migaloo was in fact a male due to his knack for melody.
  • The whale’s sex was then confirmed by researchers from the Southern Cross University in 2004 when they were able to obtain skin samples.
  • Until September 2011 it was thought that Migaloo was the only white whale in existence, after which, an all-white humpback calf emerged.
  • 'Migaloo' means 'white fella' in some Aboriginal languages.
  • Despite being almost completely white, Migaloo is referred to as 'hyper-pigmented' rather than 'albino'.
  • Scientists say that it's possible Migaloo is 'leucistic,', which refers to partial loss of pigmentation.
  • Migaloo is a part of Australia’s eastern humpback whale population.
  • Migaloo is protected by the Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act Regulations.
  • However Migaloo has been given extra protection due to his uniqueness under Queensland & Commonwealth Government legislation that is enacted each whale season which says that a vessel will be fined $16 500 if it comes within 500 metres of the white whale.
  • Nevertheless, Migaloo hasn’t been immune to some collisions. The whale collided with a trimaran, a type of boat, on the Queensland coast on 2003.
  • Besides Migaloo, there are only 3-4 other known white whales, making them exceedingly rare.
  • The other white whales go by the names of Bahloo, Willow and Migaloo Jnr, all humpback whales,
  • The first official sighting of Migaloo for 2017 was on the 8 July, off the NSW coast.
  • In 2015 scientists explained that it’s likely we’ll see less and less of Migaloo as he matures and swims further offshore.