White wonder, Migaloo, appears none the worse for collision
By ANDY TOULSON
21st August 2003
ALMOST close enough to touch, the fabled
white whale Migaloo dived and splashed just
metres from a boat of awestruck wildlife rangers
near Palm Island yesterday. He was apparently
none the worse for his injuries after colliding
with a trimaran at the weekend.
Fears were held for Migaloo's wellbeing after he struck Magnetic Island skipper David Snell's trimaran Cirro on Saturday, breaking off the boat's keel.
The 17-year-old, 14m male whale is believed to be the only albino humpback in the world.
Some doubt was cast on the white whale's rarity yesterday when Queensland Environment Minister Dean Wells said the number of sightings of a white whale considerable distances apart had led some to suggest there was more than one albino humpback.
But Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service acting district manager Peter Morrison said humpbacks could travel more than 100km a day.
Mr Morrison said several marine experts who had sighted the whale more than once up and down the eastern seaboard said its dorsal fin was exactly the same, and that they were "99.9 per cent sure" it was the same animal.
Migaloo was located just after midday yesterday several nautical miles south-west of Palm Island, near Acheron Island, calling out and singing to other whales in the area. Mr Morrison said the animal's injuries had been determined as "relatively minor", as a scratch and penetration wound the size of a saucer to the right of its dorsal fin.
It had been decided that no further human intervention was required in terms of the whale's injuries and that it was likely to resume its migratory path south in the next few days.
Mr Morrison warned those keen to get close to the rare whale that there was an exclusion zone protecting the animal of 500m for vessels and 600m for aircraft, and that stiff penalties would apply if breached. He said discussions were continuing last night whether the humpback would be tagged to monitor its future movements, which would be a world first for the humpback whale.
A decision would be made by tomorrow