Mystery white whale found dead is not well-known albino humpback Migaloo, officials report

A white whale that washed up on a Victorian beach in Australia is not the well-known albino humpback Migaloo, according to the state’s environment department.

The carcass of an albino whale was found at a beach in Mallacoota in the state’s far east this week, sparking concern it could be the beloved Migaloo, who was first spotted off Byron Bay in 1991.

But Peter Brick, of Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP), said images of the carcass that had been viewed by officials proved it was not Migaloo.

“DELWP officers have examined images of the dead humpback whale at Mallacoota and have confirmed it is a sub-adult female,” Brick told AAP. “Migaloo is a male.”

It has been two years since Migaloo, who was named using an Indigenous word for white person, was last spotted.

Macquarie University wildlife scientist Vanessa Pirotta told the ABC such long spells without a sighting were not uncommon.

She also said that after viewing photos of the whale it may not even be a white whale, but one that has lost its pigmentation after dying because of weather exposure.

Scientists have genetic samples from Migaloo, meaning that they can test any remains to confirm whether they belong to him.

“It seems to be most likely a white whale, or at least a whale that has been a darker pigmentation that has passed out at sea and washed ashore and been weathered over time,” Dr Pirotta said.

She said it was important for testing to be done on the whale to determine whether it was another white whale, and how it may have died.

“What is going to go on now is that they are now going to try and assess whether this is a white whale or not.

“The mystery continues…because now the question is, well, where is Migaloo, who is this? What has happened to this whale?”

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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