Willow, the All-White Humpback Whale Found Off of Norway

By , November 15, 2012 8:15 pm
all white humpback whale

Willow the White Humpback Whale found off of Norway (photo by Dan Fisher)

While it is nice to get some attention for being an all-white humpback whale, I wanted to clear a few things up. First of all, I am not Moby Dick! Moby Dick was a sperm whale, and a fictional one at that, created from the imagination of author Herman Melville. The only thing I have in common with sperm whales is that we are both whales.
Whales are mammals (not fish), and as such, we have the following 5 characteristics:

1. Breathe air
2. Give birth to live young
3. Young drink milk from mom
4. Have hair (yes we whales have hair, but the hairs are really small)
5. Are warm-blooded

Sperm whales are toothed whales that hunt large prey, while I am a baleen whale that “hunts” very small prey called plankton. Other toothed whales include orcas (killer whales), and dolphins (all dolphins are whales, but not all whales are dolphins!). Other baleen whales include the blue whale (the largest animal to ever live on planet earth), and the minke whale.

While white humpback whales such as myself are rare, there is one off of Australia named Migaloo, who is quite famous. He has been seen by humans off and on for two decades. He even has a lesser seen pal named Bahloo who is all-white, except for some black spots on his head and tail. I will never meet those two as we live in completely different oceans.

Like Bahloo, I have black on the undersides of my fluke (tail). That means that I am not an albino, but rather hypo-pigmented or possibly leucistic. True albinos are completely white, and have pink or red eyes.

If you are ever so lucky to spot me, I hope you will follow the guidelines the Australian government has made for Migaloo so he does not become harassed: vessels must stay at least 500 meters away, and airplanes can fly no lower than 2000 feet. The fine for harassment of Migaloo is $16,500.

UPDATE: There have been reports of an all white humpback whale calf seen off of Queensland, Australia. Wildlife Extra reports that white killer whales (orcas) have been spotted off of Alaska and Russia (it could be the same animal), white right whale calves have been spotted off of Southern Australia, and an albino dolphin has been spotted off of Louisiana, USA.

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