Who is Migaloo?

white dorsal fin of a humpback whale in front of a beach
Off South Stradbroke Island, July 2017

As it says above, Migaloo is a white whale. Actually, Migaloo is THE white whale. He’s famous for his bright all-white appearance, which is incredibly rare. “Migs” is a male southern humpback whale who frequents the east coast of Australia.

He was first spotted off the coast of Byron Bay, Australia in 1991.

What does the name 'Migaloo' mean?

His name means ‘white fella’ and refers to his all-white appearance. There was some question as to whether he is a true albino – most albino animals have red eyes, however his eyes are brown – but his albinism was confirmed as a result of DNA testing.

Migaloo was named by elders of the Butchulla people of K’gari, First Nations peoples from the Hervey Bay area of Queensland, Australia.

Where can I see Migaloo?

Southern humpback whales, including Migaloo, reside in Antarctica during the southern hemisphere summer and generally migrate up the eastern coast of Australia to spend the winter months in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Migs has, on occasion, travelled north via New Zealand and then crossed the Tasman Sea back into Australian waters.

an all-white humpback underwater
Off Fingal Head, July 2016

Despite his bright white appearance, he has been very tricky to spot the last few years! Your best bet of seeing him is on his northbound migration up the east coast of Australia, usually between June and July.

Encounters with the white fella

migaloo the whale splashes his white tail out of the water
Migaloo tail slapping, September 2017

I’ve been extremely lucky to have three separate encounters with the white fella – twice on his northbound migration (heading towards the Great Barrier Reef) and once on his southbound migration, heading back to Antarctica. All of these encounters were in the waters just off the Gold Coast.

More info on Migs


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