Captain Ahab’s great white whale brings him destruction in the famous “Moby Dick”, but actual whales glide graceful and effortless through the ocean almost all of time. After the white whale in “Moby Dick”, there is perhaps no whale more well known among enthusiasts and scientists alike than Migaloo the white humpback whale. Migaloo the white humpback whale has been spotted this week off the coast of New Zealand as he makes his annual migration to warmer waters.
What makes a whale white?
Migaloo the white humpback whale is the center of attention no matter where he swims
It’s not every day the average person encounters a humpback whale in the wild, and it’s probably once in a lifetime that someone sees Migaloo in the wild. Migaloo, believed to be around 26 years old, was the only truly albino humpback whale known to exist on the planet until a calf was discovered in 2011 and dubbed “Migaloo Jr
Albinism can be identified by a complete lack of pigmentation in the skin, and is caused by several genetic factors combining from recessive parental genes.
Meet Migaloo the Male White Humpback Whale
It was discovered in 2012 by researchers at Southern Cross after years of observation and research that Migaloo is in fact a male humpback whale, “It was always assumed that Migaloo was a male, but we had not been able to confirm that until now.”
Preserving Migaloo the white humpback and other rare whale species for future generations
Similar to many other protected whale species Migaloo is protected under the laws established to preserve humpback whales in Australia. However special considerations have been made to watch out for Migaloo specifically.
Since the discovery of Migaloo researchers showed concern that he was receiving too much attention which caused him great stress. In response, Queensland and New South Wales issued laws stating that observers of Migaloo must stay back at least 500 meters from the white humpback whale.
Those lucky enough to be in New Zealand waters will have the chance to catch a glimpse of Migaloo the white humpback whale. However rare the chance to see an albino whale is there is no reason to despair at missing this chance to peer at the whale, because humpback whales live an average of 80 years in the wild. It’s very exciting to have spotted Migaloo off the coast of New Zealand, but if you missed this chance, there will be plenty more in the future to see the splendor that nature has created.