Australia’s almost mythical whale known as Migaloo was sighted once more, only not in the usual sighting spots, which made the event unique.
At this time of the year, Migaloo should be roaming the eastern Australian Coastline, where it makes an appearance every year. This time, the spotting was recorded in New Zealand’s Cook Strait, making Migaloo’s appearance one in a lifetime experience.
The albino whale was seen in the company of a black humpback on Sunday. Nadine Bott with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation was out on an expedition with the scientific team surveying cetaceans in Cook Strait. Cook Strait separates the North from the South island of New Zealand.
During the expedition, Nadine Bott spotted the unique dorsal fin of the Migaloo. In Aboriginal, Migaloo stands for ‘white fella’. Indeed white fella, as Migaloo is an albino whale which was first spotted in 1991 off the Australian cost. Yearly, Migaloo visits the coast.
Migaloo’s dorsal fin, resembling a crooked finger and its prominent spine make it easily recognizable.
Mrs. Bott stated:
“White humpbacks are extremely rare. Only four have been reported in the world.”
Aside from being an unique sighting, Migaloo’s appearance provided the scientists the opportunity to take a dart biopsy. It is the first analysis of its kind on Migaloo’s skin layer. The sample will be analyzed in comparison with a DNA record that was collected off New South Wales coast eleven years ago.
Cook Strait is known for being a migratory path that humpbacks are using when travelling north from the Antarctic towards East Australia. It is possible that Migaloo was in the company of a female black humpback.
According to Professor Harrison, Migaloo is quite the gentleman. It escorts females and sings to them as other males do. Perhaps Migaloo just fathered another whale.
Professor Harrison stated:
“There has been speculation he may have fathered other white humpbacks, and if he is able to successfully reproduce, there is a high probability the calf will be white too”.
The spotted Migaloo is believed to be around 24 years of age. Until recently, it was believed that humpbacks can only survive up to 48 years old. New body of evidence showed that in fact, they have the same lifespan as a human. As such, their lifespan goes up to even 96 years old.
Nonetheless, as Migaloo is an albino humpback whale, it is possible that it is infertile or that its immune system is compromised, not allowing the whale to successfully reproduce.
Image Source: independent.co.uk