Whale Research


To help identify individual humpback whales, Gold Coast Whale Watchers and scientists will photograph the unique patterns of marks and pigmentation on the underside of the tail fluke. In turn, this will allow long-term studies of known whales to be documented.

There is only one known instance of a humpback moving between breeding grounds in the same season. Unsurprisingly it was not a whale that migrates to the Gold Coast every year – because the Gold Coast waters are so beautiful and warm the whales cannot resist!

Shore-based observers can track the movement patterns of humpback whales along the Gold Coast and Brisbane coastline using computerized survey equipment. The degree of difficulty to track long-term movements is obviously much higher requiring researchers to use satellite transmitters and remote underwater listening stations. 

It has been reported that when whales engage in high-energy activities such as tail slaps and breaches they leave pieces of skin in the water. These pieces of skin help determine gender, paternity, level of accumulated biotoxins and the degree of relatedness between the Gold Coast populations to other populations around the world.

The Humpback whales that migrate to the Gold Coast and Brisbane waters have a lighter pigmentation than those found in other regions of the world.

The only albino humpback whale named Migaloo (meaning white fell in aboriginal) to ever be documented was spotted in 1991 off the eastern coast of Australia and has been spotted many times since by our Gold Coast Whale Watching vessel.

Each year Migaloo returns with in a two week period of June the 29th on is Northern migration and the 30th of September on its southern migration.