Extremely rare albino white whale surfaces in Australia
In Moby Dick, the whiteness of the whale is a constant refrain used by Melville to indicate the blank eternal chaos represented by its albino body. However, Moby Dick was a sperm whale, and sperm whales are larger and more aggressive than the more family-friendly humpback.
Like the moon itself rising out of the waters, an albino whale is a rare sight. Migaloo is his name. He's in his late 30s, and he's the only documented white humpback whale in the world, sighted off the coast of Australia by fans who have come to see him as a national treasure and a natural wonder.
Here's the footage of his most recent sighting:
"The white glow coming towards you, it's indescribable. There's nothing like that," a passenger on the boat told local channel 7 News.
Albino animals are a rare and surreal sight. An albino moose from Sweden went viral this past week for its otherworldly white glow, seeming like a fantasy creature out of place in the real world. Even its branch-like antlers were bleached white.
Migaloo the white whale was first sighted in 1991, when he was only 8 or 10 years old. He's so popular that a baby albino whale discovered near Queensland, Australia was nicknamed Migaloo Jr.
However, the white skin like snow has its drawbacks well. It comes along with certain genetic defects, like poor eyesight, and can easily be sighted by potential predators. Still, Migaloo has made it quite far in life despite being such a clear target.
Whales are usually spotted when they rise to surface to breathe or breach. The reason why whales leap upward out of the water in such dramatic displays remains somewhat unknown, adding more mystery to these ancient primordial leviathans of the sea.
Some scientists suggest that it's part of the whale's communication. The sound the whale makes when smacking into the water creates ripples of sound that whales far away would be able to hear. Others suggest that whales breach to be able to breathe in choppy waters.
Chris Parsons, a cetacean biologist, has commented on the theory:
"This makes absolute perfect sense. Even though these whales can produce calls that travel great distances, if there’s a lot of noise, it might be easy to drown out. Leaping up in the air and splashing down is equivalent to the really keen kid in a classroom jumping up and down waving his arms."
When whales rise to the surface, they use their blowholes to breathe, spouting mist into the air before drawing in a massive amount of air, and submerging once more into the deep. Their entire bodies hold enough air, blood and blubber to make them weigh an average of 33 tons, or 66,000 pounds.
And humpback whales are still on the small side! The enormous blue whale weighs 300,000 pounds, an absolutely staggering amount, 150 tons of whale.
These majestic creatures existed long before human beings, and will exist long after. If all the world flooded, as Melville once wrote, they would ignore the ark and continue unperturbed. If all the world were to be swallowed by the seas overnight, the great whales would never notice. They are surely the most stoic and independent of all mammals.