Albino Humpback Whale

Author: 
Samantha Higgins and Olivia Nichol

Migaloo

“Migaloo” (which means white fella), is an albino whale who has been spotted some places as New Zealand and Australia when migrating. The first sighting of Migaloo was in 1991 off Byron Bay. Scientists are estimating that this white whale is around 32-36 years old and 13 meters long making him smaller than normal humpbacks. Migaloo is the first albino whales ever spotted, but he isn’t alone anymore there have been two white calf’s spotted that scientists believe Migaloo may have fathered. These calf’s have some small black spots on them making them not albinos and just hypo-pigmented.


Discolouration

Some people think that Migaloo's discoloration is signs of life threatening cancer. It is actually a buildup of marine algae that attached itself to Migaloo when he travels up threw the southern ocean. After his stay in Australia waters he looks paper white because the southern algae does not do very well in the warm waters of Australia.

  

Migration

Humpbacks in the winter migrate to warmer low latitude tropical waters where they breed and give birth. In the spring, summer and autumn they migrate to cooler and high latitude polar waters to feed. Migaloo is part of the east Australian population of humpback whales. From November to April Migaloo's population of humpback whales feed in Antarctica and migrates along the east coast of Australia to breed near the Great Barrier Reef from May to October.


Other albino whales

Migaloo. (Full albino)

Mother with the normal pigment and albino calf

Son of Migaloo, Migaloo junior (Full albino)

Gallon of milk, female albino hump back whale spotted off the gulf of Mexico (black spots)

Willow (black pigment in her skin)

Bahloo (black pigment in his skin)


Sightings

Gallon of milk was spotted with her black calf that had distinctive white spots. Gallon of milk was observed for the first time during the 2008-2009 seasons as a whale calf with the albino characteristics.

The most recent sighting was at Alambre Island in the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Gallon of Milk was accompanied by a calf that was gray with white spots.

The most recent sighting of the Migaloo family, scientists are saying it was Migaloo junior because it lacked some distinctive scarring the white whale received back in 2003 by a boat.

Migaloo and Migaloo Junior are not the only white humpbacks that have been spotted; Willow lives in the Arctic, and Bahloo lives near Migaloo, but both have a few black spots, so Migaloo and MJ are the only all-white whales known so far.