Rare White Whale Spotted Off Australia

Migaloo is migrating to warmer waters for breeding: researchers
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2014 8:14 AM CDT
Rare White Whale Spotted Off Australia
In this June 26, 2006 file photo, the tail fluke of a white whale that has been affectionately named Migaloo is seen as it migrates along Australia's east coast.   (AP Photo/Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre, Dan Burns, File)

A celebrity albino humpback whale has been spotted for the first time this year off the coast of Australia. The famous Migaloo—who, until 2011, was the only documented all-white whale in the world—has been seen making his way north past Sydney on the country's east coast over the last few days, the Daily Telegraph and Guardian report. Traveling with at least four companions, the humpback, first sighted in 1991, is en route to warmer waters for breeding as part of a seasonal migration from Antarctica to Queensland. The only other all-white whale known to exist? A calf discovered in 2011, nicknamed Migaloo Jr.

The whales will make the return journey in September, the Daily Mail notes, and while his path isn't a new one, "there were a couple of years after 1991 when we didn't see him at all, and there's been a couple of years when he goes missing in action," says researcher Oskar Peterson. Those who do spot Migaloo, whose name is an Aboriginal word meaning "white fella," are pretty lucky, he adds. "He glows ... it's like fluorescent blue when you see him up close." Watchers can't get too close though. Laws are in place to protect Migaloo after he had a run-in with a boat that left him with black scars on his back. (More humpback whale stories.)

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