WELLINGTON, Jan. 28 — A rare white humpback whale spotted in the Cook Strait, between the North and South islands, had been confirmed as Migaloo, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said Thursday.
Migaloo, a famous white humpback that had been seen almost every year off eastern Australia since 1991, was seen on July 5 and DNA analysis of a skin sample by Oregon State University in the United States had found it matched the genetic profile taken from Migaloo, said DOC officials.
The Cook Strait sighting was the first of Migaloo in New Zealand waters and outside of Australian waters, leader of the DOC-run Cook Strait Whale Survey, Nadine Bott, said in a statement.
"Migaloo being in New Zealand waters supports the findings from our Cook Strait research that humpbacks seen off eastern Australia also move through our waters and perhaps even more so than we had thought," said Bott.
"Confirming it is Migaloo helps us in learning more about humpbacks in South Pacific waters," Bott added.
Migaloo — Australian Aboriginal for "white fellow" — is the most famous of the four recorded white humpbacks and is thought to have fathered two white calves.
Another white humpback whale was spotted in Norway last year.
The annual Cook Strait Whale Survey, which assesses humpback whale recovery since commercial whaling ended in 1964, found a record 137 humpback whales last year, indicating their numbers were increasing in New Zealand. (PNA/Xinhua)