Dylan Golden spent the morning of June 28 in Guerilla Bay in Australia with his drone. After about two hours of photographing whales in the area, he was ready to head home when he saw a splash.
The photographer sent his drone out to investigate — and he was shocked by what he found, he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Golden spotted what he believed to be a “very rare” juvenile white humpback whale swimming alongside a grown humpback whale, he wrote in an Instagram post. He was able to capture a photo and short video of the two creatures swimming through the bay.
“I was shocked. I didn’t know how to react or really believe it was one until I looked back on the footage and saw how white it was,” Golden told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “I was in awe.”
Golden has been photographing whale migration since he was 14-years-old, he told The Guardian. This is the first time he’s seen a white whale.
“It was really, really cool to see,” he said. “I’ve just never seen anything like it before.”
Guerilla Bay is on the southeastern coast of Australia, about 190 miles south of Sydney.
White humpbacks in Australia
Golden’s discovery comes just weeks after a tourist flying over the Great Barrier Reef caught an all-white whale on camera. The sighting was confirmed by the White Whale Research Center in a June 16 post.
White whales are a rarity, and there are only a handful in the world, Vanessa Pirotta, a whale expert at Macquarie University, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
On the eastern coast of Australia, there is only one known white whale, Migaloo.
Migaloo was last spotted in 2020, and experts could not confirm if the June 16 sighting was him.
“It does not provide us with the amount of information we would require to identify Migaloo,” Pirotta told 9 News. “It could be him or possibly another white-ish whale as part of this east Australian humpback whale population.”
Similarly, experts have not been able to confirm if Golden’s sighting was really a white humpback.
Olaf Meynecke, a marine scientist from Griffith University, speculated that the whale was just a few days old, which is why it appeared white, he told The Guardian.
Oceania Project founder Wally Franklin said it’s worth investigating the whale, but the sighting itself is not conclusive proof of another all-white humpback, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is very difficult to declare it as an albino whale, but I’d be interested to see more information about it,” Franklin told the outlet.
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