Migaloo Whale

Everything you need to know about Migaloo

If you haven’t heard of Migaloo, then here’s your tell-all about Australia’s humpback sweetheart. An icon in our seas, Migaloo’s migration pattern passes between the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef and freezing Antarctica along the east coast of Australia.

Planning an east coast trip anytime soon? You’ll want to work a Migaloo sighting in, he’s that much of a celebrity here. Before you book your plane/cruise/car to Queensland, brush up on these must-know Migaloo facts before you come face-to-eye with him.

The basics

Everything you need to know about Migaloo

Photo by @shotsbysez

Migaloo is an adult male albino humpback, estimated to have been born in 1986 (now in his 30s). He was first spotted in 1991 when he was passing through Byron Bay, and is one of an estimated 35,000 humpback whales that migrate yearly.

He’s a vision

With brown eyes and a white pigmented exterior, Migaloo isn’t hard to spot in a pod of humpback whales. His hypo-pigmentation is likely a genetic mutation, and scientists have speculated whether he is a true albino or if he is leucistic: an inability to produce pigment but with coloured eyes.

He’s protected

Being so unique, Migaloo is protected under Queensland and Commonwealth Government legislation, which states that no vessel is allowed to get within 500 metres of him. They can live up to 50 years so it’s important we look after him as long as possible.

His name is Indigenous

Named after his traditional roots, and being the only known Australian white whale, it’s only fitting that Migaloo’s name means “white fella” in some Indigenous languages.

(Almost) one of a kind

Migaloo is one of a handful of known white whales worldwide and was the first one ever sighted. There are 3-4 other known white humpback whales that Migaloo swim with: Bahloo, Willow and Migaloo Jnr (although it’s unknown whether he is related to Migaloo).

He can carry a tune

Humpbacks are known for their playful dispositions and enchanting whale songs, and Migaloo is no exception.

Where to spot him

Photo by @queensland

There are plenty of places from which to get a good view or a swim with a passing pod, depending on where you are along the East Coast. From day trips to longer stays, there’s options to suit all.

Check out these whale watching boats, and while you’re counting the days for your Migaloo encounter read up on these fun facts, learn how to speak whale (it’s only polite) and brush up on your whale trivia knowledge.

Catch him before he flies the coop

In 2015, scientists explained that Migaloo may start to swim further offshore as he matures, making it possible that we’ll see less of him over the coming years. His migration passes many popular spots along the east coast on the way to the birthing and mating grounds of the Great Barrier Reef, between May and November each year.