Twist after Migaloo-like white whale carcass washes up in Victoria

·Associate News Editor
·2-min read

UPDATE: The white whale carcass found on a Victorian beach is not Migaloo, according to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

"DELWP Officers have examined images of the dead Humpback Whale at Mallacoota and have confirmed it is a sub-adult female. Migaloo is a male," DELWP's Peter Brick said in a statement.

EARLIER VERSION

Early indications suggest a white whale carcass washed up on a Victorian beach might not be Migaloo, a leading expert says.

Macquarie University wildlife scientist Dr Vanessa Pirotta said while it is too early to categorically say without genetic testing, the observation of darker skin on the carcass suggests "this could potentially be another whale".

Darker skin surrounding barnacles on the carcass has suggested to scientists the whale may not be Migaloo. Source: Peter Coles via ABC
Darker skin surrounding barnacles on the carcass has suggested to scientists the whale may not be Migaloo. Source: Peter Coles via ABC

"The team and I have worked on an initial assessment... but it seems to be most likely a white whale or at least a whale that has been a darker pigmentation," she told ABC Weekend Breakfast.

"It has potentially passed out at sea, and washed ashore and be weathered over time because when you can see the barnacles attached to that black area, it indicates that was external skin."

She said it was "over 50 per cent" likely not to be Migaloo, however she stressed genetic testing was needed.

The whale was found by locals on Mallacoota beach, south of the NSW border, on Saturday morning.

A white whale has been found washed up on a Victorian beach. Source: Nine News
The carcass was found washed up on a Victorian beach close to the NSW border. Source: Nine News

Carcass may have been weathered

Dr Pirotta said carcasses can often be wrongly determined as white whales due to a number of factors such as weathering, sun exposure and the removal of skin.

Experts are expected to visit the Mallacoota beach to measure the whale and inspect its genital area. Access to the beach is difficult, hampering scientists' efforts to identify the whale.

Humpback Migaloo has been a household name in Australia for decades thanks to its rare albino appearance and has been regularly spotted off the east coast since the nineties.

Local Peter Coles went to see the discovery, accessing the beach by kayak. He told the ABC the carcass was "pretty spectacular" and looked like it was sculpted out of white marble.

He said there was no signs of damage to the carcass.

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