One of only a few white whales known to the world, watch this gorgeous creature as he swims near Sydney on his way to Antarctica.
Call me Ishmael? Fortunately for Migaloo, the only people obsessed with this great white humpback are his admirers. Named after the Aboriginal word for "white man," Migaloo has gained notoriety as one of only a very few snowy whales known to humankind – and the beloved wild whale was spotted again last week off the coast near Sydney to the utter delight of whale watchers. He is pictured above from a sighting a few years ago; recent video below.
Estimated to be around 31 years old, the wan whale is either leucistic – like the white giraffes seen recently in Kenya – or a true albino, meaning that he us unable to produce pigment at all.
Brian Clark Howard writes in National Geographic that three white humpback whales, including Migaloo, have been seen off Australia in recent years. “One has been dubbed "Migaloo Junior" or the "son of Migaloo" – although no one knows whether this smaller whale is actually related to Migaloo," he writes. "A third white humpback with black spots on its tail has also been spotted.”
Thanks to commercial whaling, humpback whales once balanced on the brink of extinction with a mere one hundred individuals remaining; in the years since legal protections were established, they have recovered valiantly. Now they are listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN; some 20,000 of the gentle giants are believed to migrate around Australia each year.
Amazingly, Migaloo has a restraining order against humans, of sorts. While Australian boaters can go within go within 100 meters of other whales (or 300 meters when a calf is involved), Migaloo has been granted a 500-meter buffer. There will be no indulging of grudges with this white whale.
You can see Migaloo in the video below, taken by Whale Watching Sydney photographer Jonas Liebschner, who, according to National Geographic, had been hoping to see Migaloo all week. We're guessing it was worth the wait.