White whale makes appearance off Byron Bay

By AG Staff Writer July 27, 2016
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Is that you Migaloo? Incredible footage and images captured of rare white humpback whale in Byron Bay, NSW.

YESTERDAY MORNING, Australian nature photographer Craig Parry captured these incredible rare images of a white humpback whale off the coast of Byron Bay in northern New South Wales.

There is confusion as to whether the whale spotted is the famous white whale ‘Migaloo’ – first photographed passing Byron Bay back in 1991 – with some experts suggesting it may in fact be a different, younger individual which they’re calling ‘Son of Migaloo’.

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‘Son of Migaloo’ is thought to be smaller with less damaged skin than the older, more famous Migaloo first spotted in 1991. (Image: Craig Parry / diimex.com)

This white whale was apparently around 10m long – 2-3m shorter than Migaloo – and has less skin damage than the older, more famous white whale.

“It’s quite identifiable that it’s more pure in its whiteness,” Trevor Long, Sea World’s Director of Marine Sciences, told the ABC. “This smaller whale was first seen in about 2004 and was last seen off the Gold Coast in about 2012,” he added.

Miga-who? Identifying the white whale

However another whale expert, from Griffith University, is arguing the white whale is indeed the famous 30-year-old Migaloo. “I am 100 per cent sure it’s Migaloo,” Dr Jan-Olaf Meynecke told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

The White Whale Research Centre is also adamant that the whale spotted yesterday is Migaloo and said that “any suggestion it was not is wrong,” in a post on its Facebook page today.

Either way, the sight of an all-white humpback whale is a rare and spectacular experience.

Byron Bay-based photographer Craig said when he saw the white belly of the whale reveal itself he “had to look twice”.

“We turned off the engines to keep our distance and drifted along, snapping pictures like crazy. Over about 30 minutes, he slowly made his way over to us to get a closer look before giving us a little high five in the way of a fin slap on the water and continuing on,” said Craig.

Migaloo was first spotted off Byron Bay on 28 June 1991, and was the only documented record of an all-white humpback whale in the world at the time. According to the White Whale Research Centre, Migaloo is suspected to be an albino whale, but without definitive evidence he is currently known as a “hypo-pigmented” humpback.

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When Migaloo was first spotted, he was the only known white whale, however some experts believe this latest sighting was of a different individual. (Image: Craig Parry / diimex.com)

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“Truly the image of a lifetime!” said photographer Craig, who is off to Tonga next week on his own annual migration to document the humpback whales as they move through the warm waters of the South Pacific. (Image: Craig Parry / diimex.com)

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The white whale was spotted swimming north with a smaller humpback. (Image: Craig Parry / diimex.com)

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Image: Craig Parry / diimex.com

white whale

Image: Craig Parry / diimex.com

This article has been updated to reflect new information about the white whale’s identity.