Scientist shoots down Migaloo imposter theory
RESPECTED Whale researchers Dr Trish and Dr Wally Franklin have emphatically shot down claims by one Sea World scientist that the albino humpback spotted in Byron Bay yesterday was not the real Migaloo.
Sea World director of marine sciences Trevor Long told media he believed the humpback was the son of Migaloo. He believed the whale was smaller and didn't have the degree of 'skin damage and yellowing' consistent with other sightings.
However, Harvey Bay-based Dr Wally and Dr Trish Franklin from the Southern Cross University Marine Ecology Research Centre, who have been analysing photographs of Migaloo for the past 25 years, put paid to the 'son of Migaloo' theory.
The pair have had three direct encounters with Migaloo, and taken photographs of the underside fluke of Migaloo as well as collected a skin sample that enabled them to confirm that the whale was male.
Dr Wally Franklin said, "Regarding the whale that sighted past Byron Bay yesterday, we have obtained a photograph of the dorsal and from that alone Dr Trish Franklin could compare that with our established archives and the dorsal shape is the exact same. There is a very distinct 'peduncle' (back bone bumps) which forms a pattern, consistent throughout their life.
"In the case of Migaloo, he has a bump just after the dorsal and then two distinct bumps underneath.'
"Yesterday afternoon we were sent three photographs from a vessel off Tweed which included a dorsal shot and a tail fluke shot.
"The fluke underside is like a fingerprint -- the tail fluke has serrated edges. Those serrated edges can be seen in a photograph we have of Migaloo taken off Ballina. Trish matched the fluke shot from the one taken in Tweed yesterday against that photograph and it is a perfect match.
"That allows us to be absolutely clear and definitive."
Dr Franklin also said it was 'very unlikely' that Migaloo would pass the recessive albino gene onto a son.
"If he had a son you'd expect to see that son as regularly as Migaloo," Dr Franklin said.