By Lianne Ryan/Katy Gill
An ultra-rare white humpback whale known as the ‘holy grail of whale watching’ has been spotted off Australia’s east coast.
Infamous humpback Migaloo graced Sydney on Thursday afternoon as he migrated south towards Antarctica after mating.
One of only three out of 30,000 white whales known to be in existence off the east coast put on a show while thrashing his unique dorsal tail.
The stunning footage was captured by Jonas Liebschner, a photographer for Whale Watching Sydney, who had been expectantly waiting for Migaloo all week.
Jonas, originally from Mainz, Germany, said: “Migaloo is the holy grail of whale watching on the east coast.
“In the ten years I have been doing this job I have spotted him only twice.
“This was the first time in three years I’d seen him.
“Not much excites me now but I was shaking with adrenaline when we had a positive identification of him.”
Rather than being an albino whale, which means there is a lack of pigmentation, Migaloo – Aboriginal for ‘white fella’ – is believed to be a hypo-pigmented whale.
First spotted off Byron Bay in 1991, the humpback was believed to be the only white whale up until a calf was spotted in 2011.
Jonas said: “He had been spotted off the Gold Coast on Saturday so we had been expecting him between Tuesday and Friday this week.
“We had people up on cliffs keeping an eye out for him and as soon as there was a chance we jumped on the boat.
“A few miles away we spotted a whale jumping about so we decided to take a chance and fortunately it was him.”
Migaloo, believed to be born in 1986, has special Queensland & Commonwealth Government legislation that is enacted each year to protect him from harassment.
All vessels including jet-skis are prohibited from approaching him no closer than 500m and aircraft no lower than 2000 feet, with fines for breaching this law reaching $16,500.