Authorities have figured out if the dead humpback whale is Migalu’s beloved white whale after his corpse washed ashore.
The corpse of a humpback whale washed ashore in eastern Victoria is not Migaloo’s favorite white whale.
Photos of the whale’s dead body surfaced on Mallacoota Beach in East Gippsland on Saturday, raising fears it could be the famous animal.
But the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, after examining images of the scene, confirmed that the dead whale was not Migaloo.
DELWP officers examined images of a dead humpback whale in Mallacoota and confirmed that it was an immature female. Migalu is a male,” said Peter Beek, commander of the regional agency DELWP, on Sunday.
“DELWP and Parks Victoria staff will conduct further assessments of the carcass in the coming days.”
Scientists and officials have been working to determine if the dead whale is Migalu by taking a genetic sample from the body and photographing the fluke (tail) to compare it to past images.
The public has been ordered to stay 300 meters away from the carcass as it is a violation.
Wildlife researcher Dr Vanessa Pirotta and a team at the White Whale Research Center said earlier Sunday that it was likely a different whale.
“We have come to a very, not 100% conclusion right now… it could potentially be a different whale than Migalu,” Dr. Pirotta told ABC News on Sunday.
Genetic testing will basically tell us 100 percent if it’s Migalu or not. But at this stage, the team and I have been working on the initial estimate, we are not in the field, just based on what we see, it is most likely not (Migaloo).
“We are putting the puzzle together, but at this stage it seems that without genetic testing, more than 50 percent of the probability of Migaloo appearing is impossible, but I will say with caution that we need genetic testing.”
The Marine Mammal Foundation also stated that “an early assessment of sex and skin degradation suggests this is not Mygaloo.”
Dr. Pirotta cited the darkened skin and barnacles on the throat as key features they found when evaluating the images.
“It is most likely a white whale, or at least a whale that had darker pigmentation that potentially passed out on the spot, washed ashore and weathered over time,” she said.
“When you see barnacles attached to this black area, it indicates that it was the outer skin.”
Migaloo has brought joy to Australians and people around the world for decades, with thousands of people flocking to the east coast hoping to see this rare animal.
He is believed to have been born in 1986 and was first seen in Byron Bay in 1991.
Until 2011, it was thought to be the only white whale in the world and only three or four others remained.
Migalu’s name means “white guy” in several First Nations languages and special Queensland and Commonwealth laws are in place to protect him due to his uniqueness.
He has not been officially seen since 2020 after he lost his tracking chip.
Originally published as White beached whale is not Migaloo’s favorite