How Did Rare White Whale Spotted Off Australia Get That Way?

A fluke of genetics can produce animals with no pigment at all—albinos—or creatures that are mostly white.

Like a ghost rising from the deep, a rare white whale flashed its pale hide off Australia's Gold Coast on Sunday. But despite the inevitable Moby Dick references, this particular animal was a humpback, not a sperm whale.

Some people thought the recently spotted white whale  was the famed Migaloo, an adult whale first spotted in 1991. He was the only known living albino humpback at the time. (Also see "Pictures: Special Albinos and Unusually White Animals.")

Since then, two other white humpbacks have been spotted off Australia's coast. One has been dubbed "Migaloo Junior" or the "son of Migaloo"—although no one knows whether this smaller whale is actually related to Migaloo, and a third white humpback with

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