TAKING FLIGHT: White whale Migaloo on his way to NSW vantage points.
TAKING FLIGHT: White whale Migaloo on his way to NSW vantage points. SEA WORLD WHALE WATCH

Whale watchers watch out

WHALE watchers hoping to catch a glimpse of the white whale Migaloo might be waiting for up to a fortnight before he passes through waters off Byron Bay.

If you are interested, keep your eyes peeled because the 14m-long albino male was seen off Cairns last Friday.

Migaloo is famous for being the first documented white humpback whale on the planet.

However, since his discovery in 1991 there have been reports of other white whales moving up and down the coast.

Lawrence Orel from NSW National Parks and Wildlife said whales use ocean currents to move up and down the coast.

The whales we see off Cape Byron and surrounding waters are undertaking a long journey, heading to warmer waters off the Antarctic to feed after breeding along the east coast over winter.

Mr Orel said we can expect to see mothers and their new calves heading south over the next few weeks.

"The calves need to stop to feed or take a rest," Mr Orel said. "Mothers bring them quite close to the coast and this is when we get a good look."

Mr Orel reminded observers to keep a respectful distance from the mammals.

"Newborn calves have no protection except for their mothers."

"Naturally, mothers are very protective so for their safety and ours we need to make sure we're giving them some space."

Christina Grey from Blue Bay Whale Watching Byron Bay said now is the best time to get out and see whales, with the tour company experiencing their regular influx of people booking tours to spot them.

"From early July right through to October is the best time to see whales in Byron Bay," Ms Grey said.

Migaloo's name comes from an Aboriginal word meaning "white fella".

Indigenous Australians have long connections to whales, with some rock engravings and paintings of whales estimated to be thousands of years old.



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