White whale Migaloo back in Far North
MIGALOO might have a tumour but that did not stop him reaching the tropics, with the beloved white whale surfacing yesterday near Port Douglas.
Not seen since 2007, Migaloo – bigger than a truck and iridescent white – made his annual migration north past Cairns unnoticed.
Greg Kaufman, from the Pacific Whale Foundation, said his old friend, estimated to be in his mid 20s, was looking well and "doing all the things whales should be doing" but warned the famous humpback may have a tumour.
"He’s got a lump on the side of his head, which we think might be a tumour," Mr Kaufman said.
"It isn’t uncommon for animals with albinism – it is also guessed he may have a low sperm count but we really don’t know enough about him or his habits to know whether he is mating.
"He was swimming fine and blowing every three to four minutes and doing everything whales should be doing so we don’t think he is sick.
"We’ve also noticed his left flank is covered with a rust coloured algae, known as diatoms – all whales have it but it is more noticeable on Migaloo because of his colour."
Have you spotted Migaloo? Help track his trail by telling us where you saw him. Share your story.
Mr Kaufman said Migaloo yesterday appeared to be heading southeast from Snapper Island, possibly heading out to the Reef.
"He is all by himself this time and is being pretty elusive today, though he is swimming pretty close, in about 65ft (19.8m) of water," he said.
"We think he was doing about 4-5 knots and once they are en route, they seem to stick with that."
Mr Kaufman, who is currently undertaking research off the coast of Port Douglas, was among the group to first spot Migaloo off the coast of Byron Bay in 1991 and took a photo of the famed mammal to Aboriginal elders who named him Migaloo – meaning "White Fella’.
The big fella was first seen off Snapper Island by a fishing boat yesterday morning, and word quickly spread.
John Rumney of the boat Phoenix spotted Migaloo at 4.30pm yesterday while on their way out to film a documentary at Osprey Reef.
"A lot of the dive boats must have spotted him today because they were all just stopped nearby," he said.
"I’ve never seen Migaloo and I’ve been up here for 30 years so it is just such an amazing and special experience for literally hundreds of people to have seen him today – he was just breaching and cruising along slowly quite close to the other boats.
"The first thing we saw was just a shimmering blue – it was amazing."
Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree executive officer Doug Ryan said the multiple sightings had invigorated the industry to put serious thought into future whale watching ventures in the region.
"What more could you want then sitting on a boat watching whales in this beautiful tropical surround?" he said.
Share this article
Annual migrant: Big Migaloo is back, surfacing near Port Douglas, but the docs have spotted a tumour.
THE re-introduction of Jetstar's four weekly direct services to Osaka in Japan and a doubling of flights to Melbourne from April 1 next year are the first significant announcements today by the airline as the result of a new agreement with Cairns Airport.
INSPIRING young leader and cancer survivor Kate Smith could hardly believe she won a national Pride of Australia medal last night.
BREAKING NEWS: Tony Abbott is the new Opposition Leader.
BREAKING NEWS: Police have found a man who escaped from police custody at Ravenshoe on Sunday night.
THE girlfriend of a man accused of raping and attempting to rape two foreign tourists at a Cairns caravan park says she watched him bash and strip one of them then chase after her.