Migaloo, the most well-known whale of Australia has showed up again in an unexpected place. The white humpback whale is usually found along the eastern Australian coastline, but scientists in New Zealand have reported seeing the whale in Cook Strait, which separates the South and North Islands of New Zealand.
The whale is seen so seldom that it is almost mythical. Migaloo was spotted on Sunday together with another black humpback whale. The day coincided with the annual survey of cetaceans in the Cook Strait. Nadine Bott, the leader of the expedition, explained that the dorsal fin and its bumps helped the researchers recognize the whale as Migaloo. The name of the white humpback is the aboriginal for “white fella”.
Bott also said that such white humpbacks are very rare with only four specimens having been reported across the world. The researchers who were dealing with the 12th annual survey used this opportunity and took the first dart biopsy of the white whale’s skin layer. The biopsy will be compared with another DNA record which was obtained from the Southern Cross University in Townsville. Australian scientists at this university obtained sloughed skin from the water behind the Migaloo in 2004 off the New South Wales.
It is possible for the albino cetacean to be the father of other two albino offsprings that showed up along the eastern coast of Australia. According to Bott one of them was even called MJ, which stands for Migaloo junior.
Marine biologist Carlos Olavarria was present on the boat. He said that it was a unique experience and that he had never seen anything like that before in New Zealand.
Peter Harrison from the Southern Cross University explained that the Cook Strait route is well-known as a migratory path for humpbacks that swim north from the Antarctic to the East Australian stock. Harrison commented on the fact that the white whale was seen together with a dark-colored humpback saying that it is a known fact that Migaloo escorts females and sings to them like any other males.
Regarding the theory according to which this whale could be the father of other two Migaloo Harrison said:
“There has been speculation he may have fathered other white humpbacks, and if he is able to successfully reproduce, there is a high probability the calf will be white too. But we don’t yet have any scientific evidence that he has.”
Previously it was believed that the whale could live around 48 years, but recent research indicates that it can ever reach 96 years. However Harrison drew attention to the fact that since Migaloo is an albino chances that it is infertile are high. And it might also have a weak immune system.
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