An Australian photographer who spent nine years attempting in vain to photograph Migaloo, the albino whale was finally credited on Friday when he captured all 50 tonnes of the remarkable beast north of Newcastle.
Experienced photographer Ray Alley off the coast of Nelson Bay in New South Wales, photographed Migaloo. The all-white Migaloo, which is migrating north for the winter from the icy waters of Antarctica to the tropical warmth of north Queensland, made a rare appearance in Nelson Bay.
Mr. Alley captured the beast breaching two to three kilometers offshore, his torso completely arched out of the water. It was the first time the 54-year-old boarded a whale-watching boat since giving up his search for Migaloo in 2009.
He told the Daily Mail Australia that this incredible photograph was the “holy grail” of his 27-year photographic career.
“I expected to see him today, because I got the call from one of the guys at Imagine cruises saying ‘we’ve got him’. But to get a full breach, it’s kind of like seeing Madonna drop her gear on stage, you really want it to happen but you don’t expect it too.”
Mr. Alley stated that the photograph’ eclipses’ his previous best photo, which was taken in 2004 of three humpback whales breaching off the coast of Nelson Bay, a phenomenon known as a triple breach. It was hailed as one of the most incredible photographs ever taken, possibly the only one to show three humpback whales breaching in the same frame.
Alley captured the stunning panoramic image of Migaloo’s entire breach, from his exit from the water to his re-entry, using a lightning-fast shutter speed on his high-powered Nikon camera.
Mr. Alley, who has worked tirelessly over the years, including spending six to seven days on whale-watching boats during peak migration season, said Migaloo’s journey on Friday was well worth the wait. He mentioned that it might be something he never gets to do again.
Friday was a busy day for Nelson Bay vessels, with everyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the great white whale in action. Alley attributed Migaloo’s unexpected breach, which happened about an hour after tailing him around, to the departure of a competitor cruise ship, Moonshadow Cruises, which turned and went for land just minutes before Migaloo came out for air.
‘He was probably coming up to see where the sound (of the engine) went.’
Alley said the sight of Migaloo was something to marvel. ‘He is just one of those whales that has a magnificent presence about him.’
Only one other white whale in the world, a Norwegian, has Migaloo’s distinctive albino appearance. On Tuesday, he was spotted for the first time this year by a member of the public near Green Cape in southern New South Wales.
On Thursday, he was spotted several times again, with camera crews capturing stunning images of the 35-year-old off the coast of Sydney. As Australia’s beloved white whale finished his three-month migration from Antarctica to North Queensland and back, he was photographed and filmed breaching in waters near Botany Bay, Cronulla, and Bondi.