During the 1992 season reports were received that there was a white Humpback whale sighted in the Whitsunday Passage and a little later a T.V. news report, taken from an aircraft, showed this animal clearly.
Is this the only white Humpback in the world? An albino or was it by some freakish chance, that this animal had no black on its body at all? The Southern Hemisphere Humpback whales are generally pure white on their bellies and underneath their tails, in contrast to the Northern hemisphere ones, which are mainly black on their bellies.
At times some animals are sighted in Hervey Bay with almost black tails (on both sides), whilst other animals have white almost up to their dorsal fin.
But pure white? And will it come into Hervey Bay?
This was answered by Barry Seymore, skipper/owner of one of the whale watch fleet's vessels, Seaspray, when he reported on 13th of September 1992, that the white whale had entered the Bay, but in a most unusual way. It was sighted with two whales in front, two on either side and two following it. IT WAS ESCORTED BY SIX WHALES. Almost like royalty.
When other vessels arrived they found the white whale on its own, very, almost painfully shy, surfacing occasionally. The following morning it had gone. The whale watch fleet discussed afterwards of what could have happened. Perhaps too many vessels for too long a period, all hoping for a good photograph, preferable of it breaching, of course.
And all of us agreed that next time we would give it space, at least 300 metres for no more than two vessels at the time. And a maximum of twenty minutes each.
Of course no one can tell whether this made the difference, but when the white whale again came into the Bay on 29th of August 1993, all of us kept that distance. Some whale watchers only saw the white dorsal fin and back, but later that day the white whale was joined by two "ordinary" Humpbacks and it became very playful, even some magnificent breaches. Unfortunately the day was rather overcast, which does not do justice to the photographs taken. May be next year.