Migaloo off Gold Coast? Whale watchers disagree on what whale they watched

Most whale aficionados believe this white whale is not Migaloo. Photo: Seven News A white whale spotted off the Gold Coast is yet to be confirmed as Migaloo. Photo: Seven News

The jury is still out on whether a rare white whale spotted off the Queensland coast was the famous humpback Migaloo but there’s unanimous agreement about one thing, it’s great for whale lovers.

Aficionados queued up on Monday to share their opinions on the albino mammal, ranging from almost definitely Migaloo to almost definitely not.

But punters lucky enough to watch the creature slowly make its way north past the Gold Coast didn’t really care. They just knew they were watching something special.

“It helps the tourism out of the next 20 or 30 years,” White Whale Research Centre founder Oskar Peterson said.

“Everyone’s excited to see a white whale.”

Mr Peterson didn’t think that whale was Migaloo, the humpback captivating whale watchers since he was first discovered in 1991.

“We’re not 100 per cent certain at this moment but I’m leaning towards it’s not Migaloo,” he said.

“It doesn’t look as big (but) it’s a bit difficult to tell when he’s not with another whale, next to a black whale.”

Mr Peterson said the whale’s timing was also about six weeks later than the famous humpback’s normal journey and it was much shinier than he would expect Migaloo to be.

Seaworld marine sciences director Trevor Long and Seaworld Whale Watch’s David Robertson felt the same way.

“It’s an animal that was first sighted in 2011 and it’s been dubbed the ‘Son of Migaloo’,” Mr Long told ABC radio.

That whale is also referred to as Migaloo Junior and MJ, despite no one having any idea whether it’s related to the celebrity mammal.

“Migaloo is a full adult male and this animal that we saw today is a lot smaller,” Mr Long said.

But experienced whale watch operator Anthony Arden, owner of Whales in Paradise, was equally confident a handful of lucky punters had been blessed with the company of the elusive Migaloo.

He said he’d been following Migaloo sightings very closely, had seen the whale three times previously and had spent the day following him off the coast.

“I’ve just had a look at it’s dorsal fin and a couple of photos of the tail and there’s just a lot of similarities,” he said.

“The photos I’m comparing it to are quite old photos and also quite low resolution, whereas the photos we have today are high resolution.

“He didn’t look as pink as what I remember migaloo looking at the past and he did seem a bit smaller but it’s the same thing, you sit there and look at whales over time and you sort of forget.”

The whale is migrating from Antarctica to warmer warmers in the north, and was on Sunday seen making a splash at Hastings Point in northern New South Wales.

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