Albino whale Migaloo was spotted for the first time this year off the coast of NSW, Australia. Protected by federal law, the 35-year-old albino whale Migaloo was photographed Thursday with a 'competition pod' as the group of humpbacks are in migration.
According to IFL Science, albino whale Migaloo, which means white fella in the Mayi-Katuna language from north Queensland, was first sighted in 1991 by marine biologist Dan Burns off the coast off Byron Bay. A humpback who is coincidentally entirely white, albino whale Migaloo has been spotted on the eastern seaboard for the 23rd consecutive year.
Albino whale Migaloo may probably be one of the friendliest whales in the world because IFL says that he tends to swim through waters where humans can get a glimpse of him. Albino whale Migaloo reportedly makes an annual migration during Australian winter. More than 12,000 humpbacks generally make the same migration, however, the creatures most often stay farther away from areas where they are easily spotted.
According to the Daily Mail, albino whale Migaloo shares his rare albino appearance with only one other whale in the world, a Norwegian.
On Tuesday, the first sighting of albino whale Migaloo have been made off the coast of Green Cape in southern NSW by a member of the public.
After Tuesday, several other sightings have been recorded Thursday by camera crews off the coast of Sydney. He was reportedly snapped and filmed breaching in waters off Botany Bay, Cronulla and Bondi during his three-month migratory trip from Antarctica to North Queensland and back.
The Daily Mail interviewed photographer Jonas Liebschner regarding his experience snapping photos of albino whale Migaloo. According to Leibschner, he was tipped off by whale station volunteers at Botany Bay about Migaloo's arrival together with a pod of other humpbacks also known as a 'competition pod.'
Leibschner told Daily Mail Australia of his experience with albino whale Migaloo, 'They try to swim as fast as they can and jostle for the dominant position, zig-zagging underwater.'
Leibschner said that his team from Whale Watching Sydney was able to enjoy a closer look though unintentionally because of the pods' irregular behaviour under the sea. Humans are restricted to a minimum of 150 metres from albino whale Migaloo.
Leibschner added that his crew was forced to turn off their boat's engine and instead stay still near the whales.
According to IFL, albino whale Migaloo is well-loved and welcomed by the public, more so by the tourism industry. After his first sighting this year on Thursday, several whale watching cruises have already set out to get a glimpse of albino whale Migaloo.
Though albino whale Migaloo has been known to be an albino, it was only assumed and not held for a fact. Albino whale Migaloo's eyes are reportedly brown rather than red or white, which caused some doubt. However, the Australian Marine Mammal Center made a study of albino whale Migaloo's DNA and they found that a cytosine deletion truncated his tyrosinase. This protein reportedly produces melanin, which leads to true albinism.
White Whale Research Centre Founder, Oskar Peterson, told Daily Mail Australia why Australian laws exist prohibit planes and sea craft from entering less than 150 metres from the albino whale Migaloo when snapping photos.
Peterson, who has been tracking the albino whale Migaloo's acivities since the early 90s, told Daily Mail that the albino whale Migaloo has survived a run-in with an outrigger boat. The clash, he said, left a large black scar on the lower back of the albino whale Migaloo. Peterson said that the close call led to tougher laws being brought in to protect the rare albino whale Migaloo, who has a life expectancy of 80.
Peterson said, 'Planes have to stay at least 2000 feet from him and 500 feet if you are travelling in a boat.' Peterson also announced via twitter Thursday afternoon that Migaloo was in Sydney. He tweeted, 'Attention Sydney whale watchers. Migaloo was just sighted off Cronulla 30 minutes ago, heading north towards Bondi, enjoy!'
Peterson also keeps a blog dedicated to the albino whale Migaloo, which is filled with facts, photos and other tidbits about the rare and beloved whale. The site, migaloo.com.au, is primarily used to educate school children. Peterson said, 'I've had quite a lot of money offered for the website, but I use it as an educational site mainly for school kids who send me plenty of emails at this time of year.'
Albino whale Migaloo site made by Peterson reportedly also contains spectacular images of the albino whale Migaloo and his three-month round journey from Antarctica and back between late June and September.