Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) staff on a Marine Parks vessel escorted a white whale off Moreton Island today and their photos have confirmed that the whale was Migaloo.
Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said initially the rangers thought the whale was too small to be the famed whale, but had confirmed it beyond doubt when they compared today’s photos with those from 2003.
Yesterday, the white whale entered Gold Coast waters but experts were confused as to whether or not it was, in fact, Migaloo.
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Lengthy debate which followed Tuesday sighting was finally put to rest a short time ago following the announcment from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
— Jaydan Duck (@JaydanDuck) July 26, 2016
Dr Miles reminded boaties and aircraft operators to steer clear of any white whale they happen to spot in Queensland waters – whether Migaloo or others.
“The Queensland Government’s Special Management Declarations applies to Migaloo and any other humpback whale that is more than 90 per cent white,” Dr Miles said.
“These are special management marine mammals which means boats and prohibited vessels must not approach within 500 metres and aircraft cannot approach within 610 metres without authorisation.
“These rules are in place to protect the whales and give them safe passage during their migration along the Queensland coast.”
Dr Miles’ warning follows media reports of helicopters, charter boats, drones and research vessels all out to get a glimpse of Migaloo off the Gold Coast yesterday, and as it heads into Sunshine Coast waters.
“It’s what every whale watcher dreams of, but it is really important that this animal’s space is respected and no undue distress is caused,” Dr Miles said.
“So far EHP is aware of one complaint which is being investigated and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is monitoring the whale today to make sure that everyone is doing the right thing.”
Members of the public who are concerned vessels may be approaching too close to humpback whales are asked to contact EHP on 1300 130 372 so that the matter can be investigated.
Wildlife officers from EHP will also be partnering with the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to conduct on-water compliance inspections of approach limits during the whale migration season.
The maximum penalty for intentionally moving too close to a whale is $20,113.50 or an on the spot fine of $609.