Community reminded to give Migaloo a whale lot of space

Reports of a white whale passing the NSW coast has prompted a reminder for the community to give the extraordinary mammal plenty of space.

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching and completely out of the water

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the white whale, possibly the famous Migaloo, might be passing from the Central Coast to Newcastle today after being spotted on the South Coast yesterday.

“Since Migaloo was first reported in 1991 there are a number of other white whales recorded, and like the literary predecessor Moby Dick, human interest in pursuing these white whales is putting them at risk,” Minister Kean said.

“Having left their feeding grounds in the Antarctic, Humpback whales pass the NSW coast to breed in warmer tropical waters. During this time, they usually don’t eat and rely on fat stores to survive.

Undertaking one of the longest migrations of any mammal on earth, any unnecessary stress – including constant pursuit by vessels – could mean the difference between having enough energy to survive and return to the feeding grounds.

Regulations require all vessels to remain 500 meters away from Migaloo or any predominantly white whale. Aircraft can fly no closer than 610m vertically. Drones must not be operated closer than 100 meters vertically or horizontally.

NSW can expect to see more than 30,000 Humpback whales migrate up the coastline this winter.

“A great vantage point to safely watch whales make their extraordinary migration – without the motion on the ocean or the risk of disturbing the whales – is from the land,” Mr Kean said.

“In these COVID-19 times people also need to make sure they are safe by giving each other enough space when whale watching. Stay up to date and COVIDSafe.

“This is an important responsibility when visiting a national park or other public space is too crowded to practice safe physical distancing.”

For information on whale watching in NSW go to: Whale watching in NSW