A Real Life Moby Dick “MIGALOO” – One Of A Kind White Humpback Whale From Australia

Photo credit - [IG]@craigparryphotography

In case you call yourself a so-called cartoon lover, you should be familiar with these words,

‘Call me Ishmael’.

-You guessed it right-

It is Moby Dick cartoon where there was a white whale called Moby Dick!

And that cartoon, for which the original novel was crabbed in 1851, amazed people arousing their desire to turn up a real white whale.

Dream coming true, after hundred and forty years, since which the novel was published, mankind became fortunate enough to witness the fully white whale ever found in the history in 1991!

Even though this whale, found in 1991 is not a sperm whale who lived in the pages of ‘Herman Melville’s Moby Dick’, it has not made any difference on the popularity of this creature.

Still, people cannot help loving him!

And this is the story of the famous Humpback all white whale,

Migaloo – The real life Moby Dick!!

How can you watch Migaloo?

Migaloo is a migrating creature whose migrating route is dwelling from the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef to freezing Antarctica along the east coast of Australia. This journey of seeking for warm water is around 7,500 km. Migrating season comes from May to November and there are slight variations in the beginning of the season, depending on the factors such as, the warmth, currents of the ocean and the abundance of food etc.  However, based on his speed, usually he is capable of passing Port Macquarie in New South Wales before the first week of May.

In case you are planning to go on a trip to east coast Australia, watching Migaloo would be on top of your bucket list by then!

Because ‘Sydney’ is renowned as the envy of Australia for whale watching!!

And until you come across Migaloo with an eye to eye contact, here’s everything you should know in advance about this sweet boo boo!!

When Migaloo was first spotted?

Photo by @migaloo_photos

As stated prior, Migaloo is a rock star in Australia. He was first witnessed in 1991, when he was migrating through Byron Bay by a group of volunteers who were conducting a whale count.

He was not alone at all!

But along with the rest of all the other colleague humpback whales, who migrate with him yearly!

And as estimated, there were around 35,000 to 40,000 humpback whales in the east coast with him.

And our little creature was found distinguished among all of them!

Actually, Migaloo is not a hard shot to cognize, due to its remarkably astonishing body color.  Meanwhile rest of all his colleagues have a dark colored skin which is inheritable to Humpback whales, this whitish pumpkin has amazed the scientists.

What do we know about Migaloo so far?

Throughout the entire period of 30 years since Migaloo was first witnessed, he has turned up for around 50 times. And this forward behavior of Migaloo has enabled scientists to detect many interesting facts on this creature and on the entire gregarious behavior of the whales too.

Due to the specific pigmentation pattern available in Migaloo’s body, it has been easy for the scientists to well determine the migrating patterns of all the whales off the East Coast of Australia. And being spotted easily even with no radio tags on is considered as a specialty of Migaloo. Therefore, he is considered as world’s one of the most closely watched whales.

He is concerned a rock star, not simply due to its astonishing color. He is actually a good singer. While both male and female whales are capable of producing a sound, only the male whales can sing the melodic humpback song. After recording this rock star’s song in 1998, scientists declared him a male. And in 2014, along with a DNA Test of his skin sample, his maleness was further confirmed.

How long does Migaloo live?

A Humpback whale usually leads to a life expectancy of around half a century. Even though usually the age of the mammals are estimated with its teeth, our little fellow falls under the toothless category of whales. However, when he was first seen in 1991, based on his body size, he was guessed as 3 to 5 years old by then. Nevertheless, Migaloo is now considered as a young Humpback whale and it is believed to be born around 1986, while the others believe it as 1989. Therefore, he seems to be living in thirties in his life and he has far more to go!

Why Migaloo is white?

Photo by @sarahmgower

In the beginning when he was found, it was subjected to debate whether he is an albino or not. Therefore, at the first half he was called in different conservative terms such as ‘hypo-pigment’ and ‘all white’.

But in 2011, it was proven scientifically with DNA tests that he is exactly an Albino. The Australian Marine Mammal Centre has been able to prove with genetic proof which confirms that Migaloo has a genetic variation in its body that leads to Albinism!

Albinism is considered as a genetic disorder which cause a complete absence of protein tyrosinase that helps to produce melanin in the body. As a result, head to toe, the entire body turns white pink including their eyes.

But Migaloo is extraordinary that, like other albinos he has no pink eyes. But he possesses brown eyes like all the other regular Humpbacks!

How can we recognize Migaloo apart from his body color?

Being white is not the only way for the ocean enthusiasts to recognize Migaloo.

Plus, he has some other obvious physical characteristics as well.

His dorsal fin is slightly hooked.

And further his tail flukes have a specific shape, distinguished by the scientists.

How rare Migaloo is?

Migaloo is so much that rare that, in addition to the general Australian laws imposed to protect the whales, he is protected under the Commonwealth Government legislations as well. Under this, not only Migaloo, but also the other humpback whales that are more than 90% is covered with white. According to that, vessels are allowed to come within 500 meters of him and aircrafts and drones are not allowed to approach him within 610 meters. According to them, people behave irresponsibly in an encounter of Migaloo and in 2003, that sort of a reckless boat struck has imprinted scars on this innocent creature’s back.

Therefore, taking this incident into consideration, they showed the importance of this act strictly and stated the public to consider Migaloo as a ‘special interest animal’!

And now you may feel like asking, is Migaloo the only white whale living on earth?!

The answer is NO.

Because there are three other white whales living in the ocean, in addition to Migaloo namely, Bahloo, Willow and Migaloo Junior.

But hold on!

You still have to keep hopes on Migaloo though.

Because he is the only ALL WHITE whale alive today spotted so far!

Even though the above mentioned three whales are white, they are not ‘all white’!

Bahloo is a white whale but photos of Bahloo taken in 2010 revealed that there are few black spots on Bahloo’s head and tail. And Willow has also got some black patterns on the underside of its tail.

Moreover, Migaloo Junior is a whale calf which was recorded in 2011 in the Whitsundays. He is simply a carbon copy of Migaloo. Even though it has not been supported with a formal genetic DNA Test, most of the people believe this whitish boo; Migaloo Junior as an offspring of Migaloo.

Concluding the results is up to scientists…!

However, now again you may feel relieved, thinking that Migaloo is not the only all white whale living after coming to know about Migaloo Junior.

Really sorry for being a spoiler, but still Migaloo is the one and only hope!

Let me tell you why!

It is simply not me the spoiler but the single small black dot on the dorsal of Junior’s left fluke is the one who is responsible for ruining your hope!

Due to this, this Migaloo Junior is not considered a fully white albino. Instead he has a condition called Leucism.

Therefore, he is also out of the list, making Migaloo the only hope left in the list of ‘All White Whales’!

How Migaloo got his name?

Photo by @sarahmgower

Along with its rising popularity day by day, there was a need to name this fellow. In response to that, it was decided that naming of this whale should be done, along with the collaboration of the local aboriginal collective in Hervey Bay. And according to their point of view, they named this little creature, as ‘Migaloo’, coating it with an indigenous propensity.

The sense of the name: Migaloo is the ‘White Fella’!

And according these aboriginals, white colored animals come to this world, taking a message to the world!

As they explain,

‘Their unique color of the body demonstrates the need to respect all forms of life, even if they appear different than normal. They should be honored with reverence and respect, not discrimination and shame!!’

Thus, Migaloo is not just an oceanic creature.

It’s a narrator !

A narrator, who is splashing the message of equality to the world from the ocean !!


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