The Migaloo website is about raising awareness on humpback whales in particular Migaloo the white whale. Migaloo was once thought to be an Albino Whale but for the moment he is known as a “hypo-pigmented” humpback. Migaloo was the first known all white Humpback Whale in the world first sighted in 1991 of Cape Byron NSW. Since then we have another all white Humpback Whale known as Migaloo Junior however we are yet to confirm if these two are related.
17th August 2013:
All white whale spotted off North Barnard Islands near Cowley Beach in the Innisfail region. Etty Bay’s Jenny Dean spotted the white whale and took some amazing photographs. Including the one attached.
“We stopped the boat and he was playing around about 200m away and came closer and closer, eventually about 50m away, then dived and headed for the boat,” she said.
“A few anxious moments wondering what would happen next but he surfaced about 50m on the other side of the boat and went about his business.”
7th August 2013:
Migaloo spotted of Cairns by Passions of Paradise and Downunder Dive.
3rd August 2013:
Ray Dickson and Shane Stone got a quick photograph of an all white whale back off Cardwell on Saturday. They were off Otter Reef, about 30 nautical miles offshore when they spotted an all white humpback whale at 5.30pm. The timing fits very neatly for it to be Migaloo with the last sighting off Stradbroke Island (see below) three weeks ago. There is also a possibility the sighting may have been of the younger white whales, known as Migaloo Jr or Bahloo.
July 12th 2013:
“Wow! We saw Migaloo from Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island at about 4pm on 12th July. He was about 400m off the point.” Thanks for letting us know Sean.
June 13 2013: A White Whale Sighting! The first of 2013.
Two sightings were reported.
One was sighted 1.5 klm of the Coast from Stanwell Tops Woolongong in pod a of 4. Thanks to Mr Ice Popvski
A White Whale was sighted of Yamba at 10.30am by Michael Wright. He sighted a White Whale heading slowly north within a group of 6 other humpback whales.
If you see Migaloo make sure you make a sightings report. By calling, tweeting, facebooking or emailing us! See the contact page for more information on how to get in touch.
Its that time of year when we all get excited about whether or not Migaloo will be sighted along the Australian East Coast. As the popular form of communication these days is via social media we have decided to announce all sightings of white whales live via Twitter @Migaloo1 and if you are lucky enough to sight the white whale and would like to report the sighting for our log for future research purposes please send details about the sighting such as time and date and the direction it was traveling and if possible please send a photo so we can confirm the sighting and we will add you name to the photo credit.
As the Excitement builds for the 2018 Whale Watching Season along the Australian East Coast and dedicated whale watchers and researchers are taking up positions on all the many Capes and Head Lands along the New South Wales & Queensland coast line, with binoculars in hand searching for a pod of Humpbacks breaching out across the Pacific Ocean or Coral Sea horizon, hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive all white whale called Migaloo which is a local aboriginal word meaning “White Fella”.
Migaloo the all white humpback whale was first sighted in 1991 of Cape Byron by researchers from Southern Cross University who latter collected his DNA and confirmed he was a boy estimating he was born approximately around 1986. Because of an absence of teeth (which can be used to estimate age in other mammals), it is difficult to tell the age of a humpback whale. Life expectancy for humpback whales may be up to 80 years. So potentially and hopefully Migaloo could be entertaining us for the next 50 years.
So this is what we have learnt over the years as to where and when Migaloo was sighted. This data has been collected by Oskar Peterson as he has been recording Migaloo sightings since 1991
In order to share the love and to assist in helping people plan a whale watching adventure in search of Migaloo you can use the information below to plan your adventure and hopefully this helps you in allowing a Migaloo sighting to be ticked off your bucket list.
Below is a basic overview covering the past 11 years and a more detailed sightings log will be uploaded onto the new website once it has been revamped and refreshed.(Hopefully very soon)
Migaloo sightings past Cape Byron as he heads north have been:
21st June 2004
13th June 2005
23rd June 2014
25th June 2016
11th July 2017
Migaloo sightings past Cape Byron heading South have been:
30th September 2007
28th September 2009
17th September 2017
Migaloo sightings in the Cairns & Port Douglas area have been:
July 16th 2006
July 25th 2007
Aug 14th 2009
July 21st 2010 (Port Douglas)
July 25th 2012
7th August 2013
7th August 2017
So if you are really keen on sighting Migaloo, consider taking a holiday on the Gold Coast or Byron Bay between mid June to early July as he heads North and goes past Cape Byron and along the NSW North Coast and the Tweed Coast under the shadow of Mt Warning and on into Queensland waters and the Gold Coast.
Consider Cairns or Port Douglas between Mid July to Mid August as he cruises the pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea Islands just of the coast and easily accessible by the many daily reef charter boats departing daily from Cairns or Port Douglas.
Consider Byron Bay late September and then Sydney late September early October.
He can travel/cruise between 10-14 klh and covers a vast distance in a short time as he sings his love song in search of a new girlfriend up and down the Australian East Coast.
Also note Migaloo can be sighted anywhere in between Port Douglas Far North Queensland or Eden on the far Southern New South Wales Coast. Unfortunately no other white humpback whale (Migaloo Jrn or Barloo or Chalkie) has been sighted for over 5 years so it is possible Migaloo is the only one still alive. The other known white whales were all young humpbacks and either their pigmentation gene kicked in and they are amongst the general population or they have simply succumbed to the harst Southern Ocean or Japanese whalers. It should also be noted that sometimes when a baby humpback is born it can appear to be all white or greyish in colour and as the whale grows the normal pigmentation of their skin darkens.
Migaloo can be identified from has scarring on his back and from his tail as each humpback has a unique sequence of individual bumps and grooves that are different on every whale, much like the fingerprints on a human are different from each other.
Remember if you would like some assistance in planning this adventure and the whale watching vessels that I suggest to use to ensure you get the best opportunity to sight Migaloo just email firstname.lastname@example.org and I am happy to offer some suggestions.
Peace and Happiness,
2016 first sighting of Port Stephens 22nd July
This first sighting for 2016 was of Port Stephen NSW at around 9am 22nd July. He was with a smaller (Female) heading north. The photo was supplied by Ronny from ORCCA
23rd June –
sighted going past Cape Byron at 2pm today. Great footage on CH7 QLD News tonight 6pm Get Ready QLD here comes Migaloo.
21st June –
Went out on whaleadventures.com.au to see whales out of Port Macquarie and was lucky enough to see Migaloo. fantastic.
20th June –
J.Russell spotted off Port Macquarie
“Migaloo seen at approximately 2.30 pm 20 June 2014 in the waters at the ocean entrance to Port Stephens. Photo of him just beginning to emerge at the surface… he was in the company of 2 other humpbacks” – A. Mildon
“Burubi Point near Port Stephens NSW” – K. Green
“I saw Migaloo just off Tomaree Headland in Port Stephens” – T. Outridge
19th June – making a splash off Port Stephens today. Full credit to Imagine Cruises and for pics.
18th June – Attention Sydney Whale watchers. Migaloo was sighted off Cronulla just 30 Minutes ago (3.15 PM) heading Nth towards Bondi. Enjoy! . Amazing High Res Photos courtesy of Jonas Liebschner from Whale Watching Sydney
16th June – White Whale sighted at 8.00am today of Green Cape on the far Sth coast of NSW. located at 37° 15′ S 150° 03′ E, south of Eden, NSW
Excitement is building along the coast of Australia as whales begin to make their migration north from Antarctica. Humpback whale sightings have been reported off Narooma in NSW and Warnambool in Victoria while Minke Whales are already enjoying the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Minke Whales generally visit North Queensland in May, June, July whereas Humpback whales are sighted from July to September.
From Warnambool Whale Watching comes this report:
The 2014 whale season is currently underway with a few sightings during the last week. There has been a number of Humpback whales seen along the the southern coast and also the first Southern Right whale was spotted about a week ago just off Seal Bay (Kangaroo Island). Locally there has been several sightings of Humpback whales from Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool, however in most cases the whales have been some distance off shore and only visible with binoculars. Sightings of Humpbacks will continue for at least the next the next month or so, but the Humpback whales don’t come close to shore and, as they are migrating to the warmer waters of Northern Queensland, they are usually only visible for a short period of time.
From Narooma, NSW:
A Narooma Charters skipper, Norman Ingersole, saw a young humpback in the last week of April off Surf Beach. Mr Ingersole was on his way to do a Montague Island tour when he saw the whale’s tail flapping in the water. “And it was just sort of sitting on the surface a little bit,” Mr Ingersole said. “It came up and had a bit of a look around us….We got some nice pictures of it; some nice tail shots and then unfortunately I had to leave to do an island tour. “It is a little bit early to get them around this time of the year, plus the fact that the water temperature at the time was around 23 degrees which is reasonably hot.” (Story courtesy ABC News).
Migaloo was spotted off Cairns (near Fitzroy Island) on the 25th July and again off Port Douglas on Thursday 26th July. His last sighting was east-north-east of Cape Kimberley which is slightly north of Port Douglas in North Queensland.
A Big Thank you to Lyle & Timon from Hinterland Aviation Cairns for reporting the Migaloo sighting off Port Douglas at 11.45am on the 26th July.
I bet we all wish we were the lucky tourists who had the rare glimpse of the white whale along with their pilot. The divers were returning from a trip onboard Spirit of Freedom, so after a few days enjoying amazing diving on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea they then got the ultimate end to their trip!!
The same pilot, Timron Ehret, then sighted Migaloo again near Cape Kimberley later in the day on another flight north to Lizard Island again.
Migaloo is right on schedule for his annual trip.
You can read the full article by the Cairns Post here: http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2012/07/27/230355_local-news.html
Our Coral Sea, Our chance to make it happen!
The Coral Sea is home for more than 28 different species of whales and dolphins, 26 of which are on the IUCN Red-list of threatened species. It also provides an important migration corridor. Whales have been the accidental victims of bycatch in the longline fishery of the Coral Sea, so the removal of longline fishing from three-quarters of the reserve is a welcome step toward stopping this! The incredible sight of 400 strong pods of melon-headed and false killer whales have been documented in this area and recordings of thousands of toothed whale clicks around the steep slopes of seamounts indicate that they are important feeding grounds.
The Coral Sea Marine Reserve is an important step forward for our oceans. Show your support for it at: http://www.protectourcoralsea.org.au
In June the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, announced the Coral Sea could become the world’s largest marine park as part of a national system of marine reserves around Australia. The government is now asking the Australian public to show their support for the establishment of the Coral Sea Marine Reserve. This is necessary to ensure that its spectacular marine life, its coral reefs, sandy cays and underwater volcanoes are preserved for future generations.
One of the things that makes the Coral Sea Marine Reserve very important and special is that it is the first time Australia has setup a very large marine reserve in its waters that will protect the big animals (aka whales!!!) and fish in our oceans, over a large part of their range. Up to 90% of the big fish (sharks, tuna, trevally, etc.) have been taken (eaten) and we are yet to understand the knock-on effects to ocean food webs and ecosystems. What we do know if that the big fish play very key roles in ocean communities, and their removal can have significant consequences for coral reefs. We also know that research from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park shows that areas which are fished have much lower numbers of sharks, even if they are not a species which is targeted by anglers, and on some reefs the shark populations may be as low as 3%.
Here are some important facts on the Coral Sea:
- It is over 200km from the Australian coast, past the edge of the Great Barrier Reef in an area that has not yet been heavily impacted by human activities such as overfishing or water quality issues. This makes it quite unique, in fact one of only a handful of places in the world where you will find an intact tropical reef ecosystem that could be protected and managed effectively – and we have it here in Australia!
- There are two main areas that make up the marine reserve:
- The large marine national park zone a long way from the coast in the eastern half of the Coral Sea, is really an ‘oceanic green zone’ an area that will protect the large marine animals with big ranges such as turtles, sharks, dolphins and whales, that cannot be effectively protected in smaller protected areas.
- The western half which is still open to recreational and charter fishing plus some forms of commercial fishing (mainly hand collection) but for the most part is protected from long-line fishing.
Here are some facts in general on the new national network of marine reserves that are planned (which includes the Coral Sea):
- This has been planned since the process was initiated under the Howard government. It is part of Australia’s international commitments to preserve biodiversity and other countries will be following Australia in implementing a similar system.
- It protects underwater environments that would have been protected a long time ago if they were on land, due to their unique fauna, special landscapes and importance to our oceans.
- 96% of Commonwealth waters within 100km of the coast will remain open to recreational fishers (will let you make up your mind on whether this is a good thing) and anyone wanting to experience one of the new marine national parks will have to travel over 200km offshore (again will let you make up your mind on this point).
The good points about the Coral Sea Marine Reserve:
• Nearly 1 million km2 included in the marine reserve.
• Just over 500,000km2 to become marine national park zone.
• Oil and gas exploration is banned from reserve.
• Long line fishing – a threat to sharks, turtles and seabirds – is excluded from 3/4 of the reserve.
• Bottom-trawling which damages sea-floor habitat is restricted to one very small area on the continental slope.
• Increased protection for reefs.
What needs to be improved:
• Zoning needs to be simplified around Osprey and Shark Reefs to ensure protection of the important reef slopes.t This would provide protection for the reef-associated pelagic species, such as sharks, important to dive tourism and also for scientific research.
• Long-line fishing needs to be removed from the waters north of 22 degrees South, and around Wreck Reef. An extended marine national park would provide additional protection for the biologically important Townsville Trough and its canyons, and the beautiful Wreck Reef.
Key Ecological Features:
Reefs protected: Kenn, Mellish, Shark, Vema, Osprey, Bougainville, Marion, Lihou and the Coringa-Herald Complex.
Reefs left open to fishing: Diane, West Holmes, East Holmes, North Moore, South Moore, Cairns Seamount, Willis, Saumarez, Flinders Reefs, Ashmore, Boot, Flora, McDermott Bank, Herald Surprise, Malay, Abington, Tregosse, Frederick, Wreck, Cato Reef and several un-named reefs.
Queensland and Townsville Troughs: These deep areas are important migration pathways and the site of breeding and spawning aggregations. The Queensland Trough will be protected from long-line fishing & trawling. The Townsville Trough could be protected further if long-line effort is removed from this sensitive area.
Queensland Plateau: Home to most of the Coral Sea’s reefs, the Queensland Plateau is also the largest plateau in the world! Most of its reefs will not be protected from all fishing under the proposed Coral Sea Marine Reserve but they will be protected from long-line fishing and trawling.
Southern Seamounts: The Coral Sea is home to a series of underwater mountains (seamounts) which are the result of ancient volcanoes. They attract vast numbers of ocean predators like sharks and host an amazing diversity of marine life. Kenn Reef has been protected but others are still vulnerable to long-line fishing. Removing long-line effort north of 22 degrees South would give additional protection to Frederick Reef. Wreck Reef – a reef atop a seamount – should also be fully protected.
Deep Sea Ecosystems: Unexplored and yet to be discovered deep sea ecosystems protected from sea-floor trawling
On the 12th July 2012 a white whale with black markings was photographed making a splash off the Gold Coast. The nearly all white humpback whale caused excitement onboard the Sea World Whale Watch boat yesterday.
General manager of Sea World Whale Watch David Robertson said the whale was the next best thing to Migaloo as far as whale watchers were concerned. The photos taken were the first the White Whale Research Centre has received with this particular set of distinct markings.
The Migaloo White Whale Research Centre received a sighting of an all white whale off the Central Coast last week. ‘Unconfirmed’ is a sighting where the reporter has potentially sighted an all white whale but was not able to photograph the sighting. The sighting was north of Coffs Harbour which puts Migaloo right on schedule! The last week of June through to the first week of July is about the right two week window for Cape Byron. One of the reasons that Migaloo is so special is it allows us to observe and report sightings of one particular whale’s migration.
If you spot the all white wonder contact the White Whale Research Centre to log the sighting by calling 0466 99 11 71, emailing email@example.com, or via Twitter @migaloo1 and Facebook.
News of the potential sighting has already spread, check out the Coff’s Coast Advocate.
Dwarf minke whales visit the northern Great Barrier Reef each Australian winter, forming the only known predictable aggregation of these whales in the world. Growing up to eight metres and weighing several tonnes, they are exceptionally inquisitive and often approach boats, divers and snorkelers closely, sometimes interacting for extended periods. Swimming with dwarf minke whales is an extraordinary wildlife tourism experience, dwarf minke whales behave unlike most other whales and show exceptional interest in humans. These highly inquisitive whales often approach boats, divers and snorkelers very closely, and occasionally stay in close proximity and interact for many hours.
The Minke Whale Project (based at James Cook University, North Queensland Australia) conducts research into dwarf minke whale biology and behaviour, the social and economic values of the whales and the sustainable management of swim-with-whales tourism conducted on the northern (Ribbon Reef) section of the Great Barrier Reef. The Minke Whale Project research team works collaboratively with the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry, reef managers and conservation groups to ensure that minke whale encounters are conducted sustainably.
Tourism operators must have an endorsement from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to conduct swims with dwarf minke whales in the Great Barrier Reef. For a list of current swim-with-whales endorsed operators, please visit the GBRMPA Website.
The Minke Whale Project Fund is a non-profit research fund set up by James Cook University to support research into dwarf minke whale biology, behaviour and sustainable tourism interactions. Donations can be tax deductible for Australian residents. Click here to find out more or to make a donation and become a Friend of the Minke Whale Project. They also have a brand news website: http://www.minkewhaleproject.org/
The Friends of the Minke Whale Project Facebook group provides a friendly forum for sharing minke whale-related news articles, photos, stories and updates from the minke whale season. All are welcome to join.
The Minke Whale Project is supported by many organisations and lots of wonderful people. Including: James Cook University, the Museum of Tropical Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and wildlife conservation NGOs including the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Our research would not be possible without support from the swim-with-whales endorsed tourism operators, represented by the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reef Operators’ Association. Support is also provided each minke whale season by Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Deep Sea Divers Den who donate berths for minke whale volunteer researchers on their vessels to observe Minke whale interactions.