White humpback whale spotted off Australia is not iconic Migaloo, researchers say
Whale is too small, too white to be Migaloo, according to experts
A rare white humpback whale was spotted cruising off the Australian coast today, igniting speculation that the leviathan may be the world-famous albino humpback Migaloo on his annual migration from Antarctic waters.
Researchers, however, seemed skeptical that the white male whale — which was captured on video by a television news helicopter crew off Queensland — is in fact the iconic Migaloo.
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Trevor Long, marine sciences director at the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he believes the whale is another albino humpback, first spotted in 2011, known as Son of Migaloo.
White Whale Research Centre founder Oskar Peterson concurs with Long, telling the Australian Associated Press that the whale filmed Monday was too small and too white to be Migaloo.
The name is derived from an indigenous word that means "white fella."
There are three known white humpbacks that are thought to frequent Australia's waters:
- Son of Migaloo.
- A third whale that has a series of black spots on its tail.
Of the three, only Migaloo has been confirmed as a true albino.
Migaloo has been a swimming celebrity in Australia for decades after it was first spotted in 1991, when between three and five years old. Until 2011, it was thought to be only white whale among a population of some 23,000 whales that pass by the Gold Coast each year on their way from Antarctica to warmer waters north of Australia.
With files from The Associated Press