Copyright The White Whale Research Centre

This 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.

Up until September 2011 Migaloo was thought to be the only all white Humpback Whale in the world. Then amazing footage emerges of a 100% all white baby humpback calf. This new white whale unofficially named MJ (Migaloo Junior) has amazed & delighted people from around the world. It really is mother nature at her brilliant best and hopefully this new all white whale will live as long as the average humpback whale (50 years) and assist in creating more awareness of our marine environment for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

The White Whale Research Centre received a confirmed sighting of Migaloo from Rob @ Byron Bay Dive on Sunday 2nd Oct 2011 as Migaloo again called into the bay for a play before cruising south past Cape Byron. We also have seen amazing photos of 6-8 week old Migaloo Jrn enjoying the pristine waters off the Southern New South Wales coastal village of Narooma on October 13th. Check out the photos of him breaching and enjoying life with so much energy. Please Note: Until the website upgrade is complete you can only get the latest photos Via Twitter links @migaloo1 Also receive Exclusive LIVE updates on sightings via Twitter.

The White Whale Research Centre is proud to support the Australian Tourist Industry and Australian small business owners. We recommend the following: (Whale Watching Tours)

If you are lucky enough to sight MIGALOO or MJ in the wild and can report the location please contact Oskar Peterson from The White Whale Research Centre Via mobile phone on 0466 99 11 71 or email details and photos to For all past sightings history read (Sightings Log)

PLEASE NOTE: Because Migaloo is such a unique whale he has special Queensland & Commonwealth Government legislation that is enacted each year to protect him from harassment. For this reason all vessels including Jet-skis are prohibited from approaching Migaloo no closer than 500m and Aircraft not lower then 2000 feet. The Fine for breaching this law is $16,500.00

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Migaloo Research FACTS:

  • On 28th June, 1991, an all-white humpback whale was photographed passing Byron Bay, Australia's most easterly point.

  • This unusual whale is, so far, the only documented record of an all-white humpback whale in the world. It has been named "Migaloo"This is the name Australian Aboriginal community elders from the Hervey Bay area in Queeensland use to describe a White Fella.

  • Migaloo is an adult male.

  • Researchers from (Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre) were able to collect sloughed skin samples from Migaloo in October 2004 when he breached. Small pieces of skin fell off him into the water and were collected and analysed for DNA. From this it was confirmed that Migaloo is definitely a male. A genetic fingerprint for Migaloo was also obtained, allowing researchers to check for relatives of Migaloo amongst the other whales they have samples from, as well as to check whether Migaloo is the father if they obtain skin from a calf.

  • Migaloo is suspected to be an albino whale, but without definitive evidence for the moment he is known as a "hypo-pigmented" humpback.

  • Sightings of Migaloo provide valuable insight into the migratory behaviour of humpback whales along the east coast of Australia.

  • Migaloo is part of the east Australian humpback population, now suspected to number around 14-16,000 individuals in 2011. This population was likely around 30,000 before commercial whaling began, but was possibly as low as 104 individuals after commercial whaling on humpbacks ceased in the 1960s..

  • This population is one of six in the southern hemisphere that migrate north from Antarctica each year to give birth in tropical waters.

  • Whale watching guidelines exist to protect humpback whales in Australian waters. These include slow approach speeds (6 knots) when within 300m of an adult humpback, and vessels are prohibited from approaching closer than 100m of adults, or 300m if a calf is present. The full regulations and guidelines can be found at: The Australian Department of the Environment and Water Resources

  • Because Migaloo is such a unique whale he has special Queensland & Commonwealth Government legislation that is enacted each year to protect him from harassment. For this reason all vessels including Jet-skis are prohibited from approaching Migaloo no closer than 500m and Aircraft no lower then 2000 feet. The Fine for breaching this law is $16,500.00

  • Migaloo was struck by a trimaran off Townsville, Queensland in August 2003 and still bears the scars from the collision on his back.

  • Humpback whales were decimated by whaling operations all over the world in the last century and have been protected from commercial whaling worldwide since 1966.

  • The International Whaling Commission enforced a global moratorium on commercial whaling of all whale species that has been in place since 1986.Because some populations of humpback whales are recovering at around 10% each year, there is a growing push from pro-whaling countries to resume commercial whaling. Japan who announced in May 2007 that they intend to kill 50 Humpback whales for so called "scientific" research. This announcement by Japan is totally unacceptable and we ask you to voice your concerns through the Japanese Embassy in your country.2011 Japan continues to slaughter humpback whales inside the international marine sanctuary down in the great southern ocean.Tell Japan to stop killing whales, your one voice can help make a difference."Speak out Loud"

  • GENERAL DESCRIPTION The humpback whale is a baleen whale that sings amazing songs. It performs complex and cooperative feeding techniques. The humpback has a bulky head with bumpy protuberances (tubercles), each with a bristle. Humpbacks are acrobats of the ocean, breaching and slapping the water. They live in pods and have two blowholes. The name humpback describes the motion it makes as it arches its back out of the water in preparation for a dive.

  • SIZE Humpback whales grow to be about 12-15 metres long, weighing 25-40 tons. The females are slightly larger than males, as with all baleen whales. The four-chambered heart of the average humpback whale weighs about 195 kg about as much as three average adult human beings.

  • SKIN, SHAPE AND FINS Humpbacks come in four different color schemes, ranging from white to gray to black to mottled. There are distinctive patches of white on the underside of the flukes (tail). These markings are unique to each individual whale, like a fingerprint. The humpback's skin is frequently scarred and may have patches covered with barnacles. Humpback whales have 14-35 throat grooves that run from the chin to the navel. These grooves allow their throat to expand during the huge intake of water during filter feeding. They have small, round bumps on the front of the head (called knobs or tubercles),and edging the jaws. Humpbacks have huge, mottled white flippers with rough edges that are up to one-third of its body length; these are the largest flippers of any whale. The humpback's genus, Megaptera, means "huge-wings," referring to its flippers. The flippers may have barnacles growing on them. The deeply notched flukes (tail) are up to 3.7 metres wide (12 feet). Humpbacks have a small dorsal fin toward the flukes.

  • DIET AND BALEEN Humpback whales (like all baleen whales) are seasonal feeders and carnivores that filter feed tiny crustaceans (krill- mainly Euphausia superba, copepods, etc.), plankton, and small fish (including herring, mackerel, capelin, and sandeel) from the water. They are gulpers (not skimmers); filter feeders that alternatively swim then gulp a mouthful of plankton or fish. Concentrated masses of prey are preferable for this method of feeding. An average-sized humpback whale will eat 1000-1500 kg of plankton, krill and small, schooling fish each day during the feeding season in cold waters (about 120 days). Humpbacks cooperate in hunting and have developed a method of rounding up highly concentrated masses of prey that is called bubble-net feeding. The hunting members of a pod form a circle 3-31 metres across and about 15 metres under the water. Then the humpbacks blow a wall of bubbles as they swim to the surface in a spiral path. The cylindrical wall of bubbles makes the trapped krill, plankton, and/or small fish move to the surface of the water in a giant, concentrated mass. The humpbacks then eat a large, hearty meal. The humpback whale has about 330 pairs of dark gray baleen plates with coarse gray bristles hanging from the jaws. They are about 0.6 metres long and 34 cm wide.

  • SOCIAL GROUPS Humpbacks travel in large, loose groups. Most associations between humpbacks are temporary, lasting at most a few days. The exception is the strong and lasting bond between mother and calves.

  • DIVING, BREACHING, SPY HOPPING, AND LOB TAILING Humpback whales can dive for up to 40 minutes, but usually last only up to 5-15 minutes. Humpbacks can dive to a depth of 150-210 metres. Humpbacks are very acrobatic, often breaching high out of the water and then slapping the water as they come back down. Sometimes they twirl around while breaching. Breaching is likely to be largely for communication, as the sound of a breaching whale travels a long way underwater,but may also be purely for play or be used to loosen skin parasites. Spy hopping is another humpback activity in which the whale pokes its head out of the water for up to 30 seconds to look around. Humpbacks also stick their tail out of the water into the air, swing it around, and then slap it on the water's surface; this is called lob tailing. It makes a very loud sound. The meaning or purpose of lob tailing is unknown, but may be done as a warning to the rest of the pod. Humpbacks lob tail more when the seas are rough and stormy. Slapping a fin against the surface of the water is often seen in courting behaviour.

  • SPOUTING - BREATHING Humpback whales breathe air at the surface of the water through two blowholes located near the top of the head. They spout (breathe) about 1-2 times per minute at rest, and 4-8 times per minutes after a deep dive. Their blow is a double stream of spray that rises about 3 metres (10-13) feet above the surface of the water.

  • SPEED Humpback whales normally swim 4.8-14 kph but can go up to 24-26.5 kph in bursts when in danger. Feeding speeds are slower, about 2 kph.

  • VOCALIZATION Humpback whales are the noisiest and most imaginative whales when it comes to songs. They have long, varied, complex, eerie, and beautiful songs that include recognizable sequences of squeaks, grunts, and other sounds. The songs have the largest range of frequencies used by whales, ranging from 20-9,000 Hertz. Only males have been recorded singing. They sing the complex songs mostly in warm waters, possibly to attract females or to ward of other males. In cold waters, they make rougher sounds, scrapes and groans, perhaps used for locating large masses of krill (the tiny crustaceans that they eat).

  • HABITAT AND RANGE Humpback whales live at the surface of the ocean, both in the Open Ocean and shallow coastline waters. When not migrating, they prefer shallow waters. They migrate from warm tropical waters where they breed and calve to polar waters where they eat. There are three separate populations of humpbacks, those living in the North Pacific Ocean, those in the North Atlantic Ocean, and those roving the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere.

  • MIGRATION Humpback whales take long seasonal migrations. They mate and calve in tropical waters during the winter and then travel to cold polar waters during the summer to feed. During the summer in the warm waters, adults do not eat, but live off their layer of blubber (fat); the young calves feed on rich mother's milk. Humpbacks migrate at 5-14 kph. They have incredible powers of endurance, travelling up to 8,000km each way during their annual seasonal migration, with almost no rest along the way. During migrations, they cover over 1,500 klm per month.

  • REPRODUCTION Humpback whale breeding occurs mostly in the winter to early spring while near the surface and in warm, tropical waters. The gestation period is about 11-12 months and the calf is born tail first (this is normal for cetaceans) and near the surface in warm, shallow waters. The newborn instinctively swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath; its mother, using her flippers, helps it. Within 30 minutes of its birth, the baby whale can swim. The newborn calf is about 4.3 metres and weighs about 2.5 tons. Twins are extremely rare (about 1% of births); there is usually one calf. The baby is nurtured with its mother's milk and is weaned in about 11 months. The mother and calf may stay together for a year or longer. Calves drink 200 litres of milk each day. Humpback whales reach puberty at 4-7 years old and maturity at 15 years. A calf is born to a female every 1-3 years.

  • LIFE SPAN Humpback whales have a life expectancy of about 45-50 years, although some researchers suggest it may be double this figure.

  • POPULATION COUNT It is estimated that there are over 35,000 humpback whales worldwide. Humpback whales are an endangered species.

  • CLASSIFICATION Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are baleen whales (Suborder Mysticeti). They are one of 76 cetacean species, and are marine mammals. Kingdom Animalia (animals) Phylum Chordata (vertebrates) Class Mammalia (mammals) Order Cetacean (whales and dolphins) Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenopteridae Genus Megaptera Species novaeangliae



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