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Migaloo the white whale sighted for first time in two years off Australia

August 14, 2009 | 12:06 pm

Migaloo the white humpback whale, perhaps the world's most famous whale and one that has attained iconic status among Australia's passionate whale-watching community, was spotted this week near the Great Barrier Reef by two researchers with the Maui-based Pacific Whale Foundation.

The Cairns Post reports that Migaloo, a humpback whale estimated to be in his mid-20s, had not been seen since 2007. To view photos visit the Post's website.

The researchers first located Migaloo a mile northwest of Snapper Island, with the guidance of a dive-trip vessel. They lost sight of him but found him again four hours later, about four miles west of the island.

“I honestly had a dream last night that we would see Migaloo today, and had a strong premonition in the morning that today would be the day we would see him again,” researcher Greg Kaufman said in a report posted Thursday on the group's website.

Fellow researcher Annie Macie added: "Seeing Migaloo was inspirational. The word that kept coming to my mind was majestic. It was like seeing the eighth wonder of the world.

"Just before it surfaced, you could see a halo effect from the white body against the blue sea. Then its body would shine as it rose from the ocean. Overall, it was really an amazing experience, the best day of my life."

Dozens of whale-watchers, many of them aboard dive boats, were on hand as well, and can now say they've seen what is considered to be the world's only all-white humpback whale.

Sadly, though, Kaufman said Migaloo appears to have developed a lump on the side of his head, which might be a tumor. Hopefully, it's just a bump and Migaloo, whose aboriginal name means "white fella" will be thrilling whale-watchers for years to come.

-- Pete Thomas