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Fears Australia's Famous White Humpback Whale Migaloo Has Died

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Fears Australia's Famous White Humpback Whale Migaloo Has Died

Concern has been sparked after Australia’s elusive all-white humpback has not been seen in two years, suggesting the creature might have died. 

Migaloo the humpback whale was first spotted off Byron Bay - located on Australia's east coast - back in 1991. At this time of year (June-July), humpbacks migrate up the coast from Antarctic waters, but so far, there’s been no sign of Migaloo.

With it being 24 months since the last confirmed sighting of Migaloo, it’s been suggested that factors such as climate change and human-caused threats may have led to the whale’s demise. 

Australia’s Canberra Times recently ran an informative piece questioning whether Migaloo is still alive somewhere out there, or has in fact died, however does note Migaloo’s mysterious disappearance could simply be down to the variations in whale migration.

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According to the wildlife charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation, ‘climate change is one of the biggest threats facing whales and dolphins today’.

The charity notes that whales haven't had time to adapt to our fast-changing climate and warming sea temperatures affect the timing and ranges of whales’ migration. 

That means Migaloo may be MIA because he arrived on Australia’s east coast early, or has yet to make his way there.

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Migaloo could have even skipped Australia completely, and instead headed to New Zealand. Warmer water also means some whales no longer migrate at all and remain in the Southern Ocean.

The Canberra Times also said social circumstances may be to blame for Migaloo’s disappearance, for example, he might have joined up with another pod or headed north to reproduce. 

However, human-caused threats like pollution and discarded fishing gear have been known to endanger whales like Migaloo, and there’s every chance he may have succumbed to man-made dangers.

Also, despite their enormous size, humpback whales aren’t always at the top of the food chain in the waters they inhabit. 

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The International Whaling Commission highlights the fact that many humpbacks bear ‘rake-like scars’ on their bodies, which indicate that they’ve been attacked by a killer whale and survived, although not all do.

The International Whaling Commission went as far as to say that natural predators like killer whales can even influence humpbacks’ migration patterns, as they’ll try to avoid places where there are large killer whale populations. 

Thankfully, the Canberra Times did also point out that Migaloo’s sighting history has always been sporadic, and seeing as he’s only in his mid 30s, the whale should have another 20 fun-loving years ahead of him.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@Migaloo1

Topics: Animals, Environment, Australia

Aisha Nozari
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