“Ignorance is the parent of fear.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale
Ignorance is a key element it would seem not only to fear, but also to the oil industry that saw its meager beginnings in the 1700s as a byproduct extracted from whales and used in a variety of chemicals and products such as lamp oil, margarine & transmission oil.
The whaling industry was central to oil production for several centuries before it was superseeded by modern advances in technology and better alternative resources were discovered. Not surprisingly, oil was once more provided for by an even bigger monster than before – the prehistoric dinosaur.
We still today live in the age of fossil fuel (‘ff’ aka ’77’) and although many conspiracy theorists do consider the existence of dinosaurs troublesome, the whales have remained mostly unchallenged. Nevertheless, both whales and dinosaurs share the same role when it comes to oil, and both are animals that are hard to find in nature if you go looking for them on your own.
When we look at the current estimated stock of living giant whales, we soon discover that they are all listed as endangered species close to extermination and extremely rare to find in nature. The Spermaceti Whale appears to be the most abundant among these gigantic sea creatures but even these whales are very rare to spot due to the fact this toothed whale hunts as deep as 3,300 to 6,600 feet in search of food and thus rarely can be seen.
Whale – Veil (phonetic anagram)
Spermaceti – Sperm Aic Te (phonetic anagram)
The most famous sperm whale is no doubt Herman Melville’s Moby Dick who was described as a Great White whale of ninety feet with “a peculiar snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical white hump”. This is of course fiction – but both new and old scientific discoveries tend to lend Melville a lot of credence* and not later than 1991 did a group of whale watcher amateurs spot a young white whale off the coast of Byron Bay in Australia.
Much information already exist on Moby Dick’s close Australian relative discovered off Byron Bay in the 90s and the White Whale Research Center provide some fascinating research and even new genetic findings. Skin samples from Migaloo were collected in October 2004 and served to analyse the whale DNA that determined Migaloo to be male and possibly an albino humpback whale, but without definitive evidence of direct relation to any specific known whale species. For the moment Migaloo is simply known as a “hypo-pigmented” humpback whale.
Whales are also emit sound as they communicate in deep waters and male whales are known to actually ‘sing’ which researchers as early as 1998 actually have recorded. The two hour session of Migaloo singing is now digitised & available online for whale enthusiast audiophile pleasure. Like other whales, Migaloo also swim upside down for hunting which sounds cumbersome and counterintuitive but clearly produce quality oil.
Besides Migaloo, there are three other known white whales. ‘Willow‘ lives in the Arctic and was spotted along the coast of Norway in 2012. ‘Bahloo‘ live in the Great Barrier reef and was first seen in 2008. ‘Migaloo Junior‘ was first discovered swimming around the Great Barrier Reef in 2011 and is a young calf possibly a child of Migaloo. DNA tests are expected to determine if Migaloo Jr match Migaloo Sr genetic profile.
The first photograph of the white Australian whale now named ‘Migaloo’ was taken from a 5km distance through a telescope and was blurry and unclear. Today many more pictures exist and Sony sponsored photographer Craig Parry recently won the 2017 Golden Turtle International Photography Competition in Moscow for his underwater picture of Migaloo entitled ‘The Ghost’. To prevent sightseers and amateurs approaching dangerously close, the Queensland government recently decreed a 500m exclusion zone around the white whale.
Whale watcher Jenny Dean took these amazing photos of the white humpback whale Migaloo in 2013 from just 50m distance near the North Barnard Islands, off Innisfail.
Migaloo seen just off the Queensland Gold Coast in 2017. The White Whale Research Centre posted the image on Migaloo’s very own Twitter account on July 11 and anyone can now follow Migaloo on twitter here .
*Mocha Dick – an old bull whale, of prodigious size and strength
*1909 Fossils revealed to be ancient Moby Dick lookalike