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10 September 2008

Four tonnes of pale awesome

Be sure to visit the historic coastal town of Augusta if you're planning a trip to Western Australia. This is because it's the temporary home of an albino Southern Right Whale calf and its mother. They are expected to hang around in Flinders Bay at least until October before venturing down to the chilly feeding waters of the Southern Ocean for the summer. The calf weighed two tonnes at birth and will end up weighing about fifty tonnes when it reaches adulthood.Local news and Naturaliste Chartes, a whale watching company, held a contest to choose a name for the hypomelanistic cetacean. The Western Australian Noongar tribe picked the winning name: Wilgi Manung, which means - appropriately enough - White Whale. Wilgi Manung is one of only ten albinistic whales known. According to conservation officers, the whale does not totally lack melanin and is therefore not a true example of albinism. Rather, it shows reduced pigment and is an example of leucism, similar to the famous white lions of southern Africa. Wilgi Manung is expected to go grey with age (but not to be confused with a Gray Whale).Right Whales are fat. Nearly 40% of their body weight is blubber. They were therefore considered the "right" whales to hunt: they float when harpooned and can easily be hauled in from the ocean. After years of successful conservation efforts, the Southern Right Whale was recently moved to Least Concern status on the 2008 IUCN Red List. The North Atlantic and North Pacific Right Whale species, however, remain Endangered.

Photography credit: for more photos and info, visit PerthNow.

12 comments:

Vesper de Vil said...

So beautiful! I would love to meet them!

Shimmerrings said...

Thanks for sharing that. Last year, I was able to see two white beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium. They were just amazingly beautiful. BTW, the town I work in is called Augusta, after Princes Augusta

morbidneko said...

so cute!

it's always awesome to see that there is more to life and the world than cubicles, pc screens and profit margins.

^_^

jason evans said...

Moby, perhaps? I half expect to see Ahab's billowing sails bearing down.

Avast!

(Thanks for sharing these moments, EOH.)

Karen Little said...

Can they get sunburn?

Did you hear that story about the orphaned baby whale that kept trying to suckle boats that it mistook for its mother? I don't know what happened to it in the end...It was quite a sad story. You can't just feed baby whales Nan instead.

Claire said...

Very cool. Did you take the photos?

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

Whoops. Forgot the photo credit - fixed. Thanks, Claire. Actually, I'm the farthest from the ocean I've ever been in my life ;)

~d said...

Yea-about your comment here, I don't remember knowing you in the US, let alone in Colorado. How have you been?

Aine said...

Whale watching is on my "things to do before I die" list. That would be such a treat to see such rarities!

(Hey Jason, wanna go to Australia?)
;)

ChrisEldin said...

Reminds me of a children's book...
Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea
Swim so wild and you swim so free

Beautiful pictures!!

Wendy said...

I didn't know about an albino species. Hmmmm....40% fat. Does that mean I can like to be a whale?

Inarticulate Fumblings said...

Hmmm... what do you know. Right now 40% of MY body is blubber and I'm just as white.