Migaloo spotted off Australian coast

The only documented white humpback whale in the world has been sighted off the coast of Byron Bay as it migrates along the coast of Australia.

The whale, named Migaloo, an Aboriginal word meaning white fellow, has been spotted many times over the past 15 years and was seen today among a pod of 35 humpback whales.

Migaloo, who has been compared to the fictional Moby Dick, regularly travels along the Australian east coast during the whale migration season. According to the Hawaii-based Pacific Whale Foundation, it is the only known occurrence of an all-white humpback whale.

Like the most fabled of whales, Migaloo is elusive. Although a regular visitor to the area he can disappear for up to three years at a time.

The name humpback is derived from the hump under the dorsal fin, which is particularly noticeable when the whale arches its back to dive. It reaches a maximum length of 18m and weight of 40 tonnes.

Humpbacks generally inhabit the open ocean, except during the annual migration between cold water feeding areas and the warmer calving grounds.

During this time they will often appear quite close to the coast and on the journey south (in the Southern Hemisphere) will congregate for short periods in sheltered bays en route.

In a series of pictures provided by the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre Migaloo can be seen spraying water into the air from its blowhole.

Migaloo, who was first spotted in 1991, is about 13 metres long and thought to be about 19 years-old.

He has been seen in the company of a mother and calf and has been heard