Migaloo watchers dreaming of a white Christmas after no-show in 2022

They showed that since Migalo was first seen in 1991, it has often gone undetected for several years, Pirotta said.


“As different as he is, he’s just a whale, and he’s an ocean,” she said.

“There’s been a gap in the sightings of other individual whales over a period of up to 11 years, so we’re not worried about him yet.”

Migaloo is estimated to be in his early 30s, and the natural lifespan of humpback whales is between 50 and 80 years, so the researchers don’t think Migaloo died of old age.

Humpback whales were just removed from the federal government’s endangered species list this yearafter their numbers increased from 1,500 at the height of the whaling trade to more than 40,000 in the East Australian Group alone today.

These numbers might explain why no Migaloo has been spotted recently—there are so many animals that even one as distinctive as the Migaloo can blend into the crowd.

“He doesn’t travel alone, he’s usually in groups of other whales, which might make him harder to spot,” Franklin said.

He may also have been lingering in New Zealand waters, Pirotta said, with the research paper pointing to an example where Migaloo was spotted in New Zealand waters in 2015 before leaving Australian shores just 35 days later.

The fact that people are so concerned about a whale’s whereabouts shows his special status as an ambassador for its species, Pirotta said.

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