White whale brings out the ‘spotters’

Whale watchers have been out in big numbers along the Lake Macquarie/Newcastle coast following the spotting of a baby white whale off Lennox Head, on the north coast, at the weekend.

A Ballina man, Kynan Wall, was paragliding above Lennox Head when he saw what appeared to be an albino humpback calf.

“We see whales a lot when we’re flying along there but I’ve never seen a whale calf that was that pale or even that small,” Mr Wall said.

“I was pretty excited too; I got a few photos and a bit of video as well.”

Director of Southern Cross University’s Marine Ecology Research Centre, Peter Harrison, said it was an “unusual” find.

“We estimate that the population of migrating whales along the east coast of Australia this year will be something around 33,000,” Professor Harrison said.

“But relatively few of them are all white.”

Professor Harrison said a lack of pigment was usually associated with albinism — a recessive gene carried by both the mother and father.

He said it was impossible to tell without further testing, whether the father was famed white-whale Migaloo.

“The only way you could find that out is to look at the genetics and compare it to Migaloo,” he said.

Whale watchers were out in force last weekend, particularly along the foreshore at Bar Beach and Newcastle Beach where a number of whales were spotted on their journey north. Mind you, no-one reported spotting a white variety.