Part 1: H2 and Migaloo the white whales + humpback migration with Captain Kerry Lopez

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Posted 31 August


A white whale was recently spotted in the Moreton Bay waters and caught on film by the team at Brisbane Whale Watching. We caught up with Brisbane Whale Watching’s Captain Kerry Lopez to pick her brain and find out as much as we could about Migaloo, H2 and the humpback whale migration.

With 24 years’ experience, Captain Kerry has a lot of stories and knowledge to share. See what Captain Kerry has to say below.

Can you tell us about the albino whale recently seen in the Moreton Bay waters?

We were just off Cape Moreton when we first saw H2. We had been following his movement through the media but thought we’d actually missed him this year. I looked up and was like AHHHHHH – next minute he was about 5 foot from the boat. He is a bit smaller than Migaloo.

Migaloo White Whale Brisbane Whale Watching Moreton Bay Region

What does Migaloo mean?

Migaloo means “white fella” in aboriginal. He is a lot bigger than H2, he is half the size of the boat – very majestic. The markings are very different on him compared to H2.

Was H2 with any other whales when you saw him?

No. There was another whale nearby but they were not travelling together. Each time I have seen the white whales, they have always been on their own.

When they swim alone it also indicates the whale is male. Often females will travel with another two whales. But also, H2 has never been sighted with a calf in all these years.

Are H2 and Migaloo related?

I believe so, there are no DNA facts that say they are but I believe he would be a throwback from Migaloo. They are both alabaster white - so mythical, like a fairy tale. I’ve been doing this for 24 years and I’ve seen a white whale 5 times – so it really shows how rare it is.

Is Migaloo, H2 or any other whale tracked? Are you involved in any organisations which track the movement of any whale?

No, they are not tracked. The humpbacks are not tracked in any way which I think is a good thing. I would feel sorry for the white whales if they were tracked - everyone loves the white whales so they would be followed so closely and in that respect, it’s a good thing they aren’t tracked.

Brisbane Whale Watching Moreton Bay Region

What can you tell us about Migaloo, H2 and the humpback whale migration?

The natural migration patterns of the humpback whale are such that they go to where the water temperature is suitable for them to breed. Therefore, they are doing a lot of mating in Moreton Bay so you will see a lot of bulls chasing the cows.

They are also giving birth as well in the Moreton Bay as it provides a very safe and sheltered spot for breeding especially against the predators including the great white shark and the killer whale.

We know humpback whales migrate past Moreton Bay. What’s so special about the Moreton Bay waters?

The Moreton Bay provides a shallow warm sheltered area for them. The whales are coming down here because the waters have increased by 2 degrees in the last 10 years.

We believe they aren’t having to travel as far north because of the water temperature. Therefore, they will stay, rest and bond in Moreton Bay. What we saw today was a lot of baitfish in the area, now that the humpback whale population has increased so much I believe they are finding an alternate food source as well as the small baitfish they feed on.

Are there any other species of whale around the world which can be born albino?

I believe there is a white southern white whale.

Can you tell us about the sunspots on the white whales?

Like any albino, they are more susceptible to sun and sun cancers so the pigmentation is affected in the skin causing melanomas for example. Therefore, white whales resting period would most likely more often at night time gliding with the currents and tail sailing.

Brisbane Whale Watching Moreton Bay Region

Let’s end with something you believe most people don't know about whales or are misled on?

I think a lot of people don’t realise just how curious they are. Some days they try to get into the boat they are that curious and I believe they know the Eye Spy boat, the harmonics and everything. When there is a really good energy on board they know.

Thanks to Brisbane Whale Watching’s Captain Kerry Lopez for her insight. Look out for Part 2 coming soon to find out more about these magical giants of the sea.

If you want to join Captain Kerry on board Eye Spy for an unforgettable day of whale watching head here to find out more.

Read part two now.

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