Albino Humpback spotted off Queensland22/06/2011 07:52:19
Migaloo, the white Humpback whale, has been seen off Fraser Isalnd - Courtesy of Cairns.com.au
Oskar Peterson, founder of the Gold Coast-based White Whale Research Centre, believes the whale's early appearance in Queensland waters may be a result of flooding on the mid-north coast of NSW.
"He's probably avoided all of the coastal areas of New South Wales because of the rain," he said. "He doesn't like freshwater run-off - most whales don't."
Greg Kaufman, from the Pacific Whale Foundation, was amongst the group that first spotted Migaloo off the coast of Byron Bay in 1991 and took a photo of the famed Humpback. Aboriginal elders named him Migaloo - meaning "White Fella'.
The big fella was first seen off Snapper Island by a fishing boat and word quickly spread.
Albinism, Leucism and other colour variations in animals
Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.
Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches.
This occassionaly causes very excited biologists to think they have discovered a new species, when in fact leucism is the cause of the unusual markings they have seen. Click here to see our gallery of leucistic animals and birds.