THE well-known white whale Migaloo was spotted off the coast of Sydney this week and is headed our way.
He is part of a 20,000 strong humpback whale cohort on their northerly migration to the Great Barrier Reef to breed.
Each year, the humpback whales pass close by Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay, where tourists and locals alike have made a traditional of keeping a special eye out for the white wonder.
Suffolk Park whale researcher Wally Franklin said he expected Migaloo to reach Byron Bay within days.
"The wonderful thing about him is he's so wonderfully identifiable and stands out," he said.
"He's one in 20,000 whales because of the fact that he's all white and because he stands out that makes him an incredible ambassador."
The whales will continue migrating north until about mid-August when the first south-bound whales can usually be spotted.
Mr Franklin said it was exciting to receive reports of well-known whales, like Migaloo, returning to the east coast migration each year.
"So many people up and down the coast are involved with individual whales and each year there are an increasing number of reports of well-known individuals," he said.
About 72 councils across the country are now taking part in the Icon Project which aims to create awareness around whale threats by encouraging communities to "adopt" a local whale.
Mr Franklin said he had spent time with Migaloo on three occasions, recording Migaloo's song the last time.
"The songs are fascinating because we know that they change every year and all the whales sing the same song every year," he said.
"One of these days we're going to have to set up a local radio station that does nothing but listens to the songs of the whales as they head north off Byron Bay."
Humpback whale songs recorded from 1992 to 2008 are available online at http://www.songlinesofthewhales.org.
At a glance
- Through the Icon Project, Ballina has adopted the humpback whale Shelly and Byron Bay has adopted Yumbalehla.
- Because Migaloo is so unique, special rules apply to boats hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Boaties are expected to maintain a perimeter of at least 500m around Migaloo, instead of the usual 100m.
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