VIDEO | Migaloo and friends visit the Great Barrier Reef

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Victoria Stone-Meadows

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The tail of the white humpback whale Migaloo. Image: Supplied.
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The famous white whale Migaloo and other humpback whales have been spotted in the warm waters of the Coral Sea near Opal Reef.

Donna Thompson, Office Manager at Wavelength Reef Cruises, said the great white whale and his friends were spotted earlier this week.

“The humpback whales were first sighted travelling north between Low Isles and Tongue Reef on our way out to Opal Reef at around 9:30am on Wednesday 3 July,” she said.

“Humpback whales have unique markings, which means we are able to identify individuals that have been sighted before in other places, and only a very small number of white humpback whales have been known to migrate up the east coast.

“After the encounter, we sent all of our footage and photographs to a team of whale researchers, and they managed to get a positive ID. 

“The larger of the two whales was identified as the Great Barrier Reef's most famous white whale, Migaloo.”

The humpback whales make the long journey to our warm tropical waters every year to breed and can be seen from the decks of many tour boats.

Marine Biologist, Peta Campbell, said it’s rare to see them in large groups but not unheard of.

“While humpback whales are usually quite solitary animals, it is common to see mothers and calves travelling together, and also to see small groups of adult whales forming short-term associations during migration, feeding and breeding times,” she said.

“The southern hemisphere population of humpback whales migrate annually from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds in warmer waters.

“Humpbacks can be seen on the Great Barrier Reef from May to September each year, but July and August are the best viewing months for Port Douglas. 

“Humpbacks can be seen on the Great Barrier Reef from May to September each year, but July and August are the best viewing months for Port Douglas.

“Their smaller cousins, the dwarf minke whales, are also sighted off Port Douglas each year during June and July. These curious whales will often approach snorkelers in the water.”

Ms Thompson said it’s always a great pleasure to see the majestic creatures in the wild.

“There is just something about whales that inspires awe in people,” she said.

“Having a chance encounter with a very large, completely wild and incredibly rare animal was definitely an exhilarating experience.”

She said there is no time like now to get out to the reef and see the humpback whales up close.

“While no one can guarantee sighting a wild animal like a whale, your best chance of spotting one off Port Douglas is to visit the outer reef,” she said.

“During peak whale season it is common for tour operators to see whales breaching, spouting, and slapping their fins on their way to and from the reef, with whales occasionally even being seen whilst moored at outer reef sites.”


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