WATCH OUT FOR WHITE WHALE

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WHIT­SUN­DAY lo­cals are cer­tain the white whale spot­ted off Surfers Par­adise last week is our long-lost Chalkie, the white calf that was named in the Whit­sun­days four years ago.

It was ru­moured the white whale spot­ted could be the son of fa­mous Queens­land visi­tor Mi­ga­loo, although Whit­sun­day Es­cape reser­va­tions man­ager Alita De Brin­cat said af­ter close scru­ti­n­is­ing of the birth­mark in old and new footage, the ev­i­dence is “clear as a bell”.

“The photo is from the orig­i­nal 2011 photos when he was first spot­ted right here in the Whit­sun­days. The video screen grab is from Gold Coast footage. It’s un­mis­take­able isn’t it?” Ms De Brin­cat said.

“Hav­ing been in­volved in the orig­i­nal nam­ing com­pe­ti­tion when the whale was born in the Whit­sun­days in 2011, we’d love the rest of the world to adopt the of­fi­cial name he was given, Chalkie,” she said.

“It’s re­flec­tive of both the colour of his skin, as well as the area where he was born.”

“Chalkie’s Beach is a beau­ti­ful white sil­ica sand beach op­po­site White­haven Beach, one of Aus­tralia’s most fa­mous beaches – it’s quite fit- ting.” Whit­sun­day Es­cape had held grave fears for Chalkie’s wel­fare, be­cause he had not been seen since he was born.

“Sci­en­tists ad­vised that many young whales do not live to adult­hood, and his col­oration would be an ad­di­tional hin­drance to his sur­vival, mak­ing him stand out to preda­tors,” Ms De Brin­cat said.

Whit­sun­day Es­cape be- lieves Chalkie is a male and is not be­lieved to be Mi­ga­loo’s off­spring be­cause the lack of pig­men­ta­tion is un­likely to be hered­i­tary.

Boat­ies are be­ing urged to stay a safe dis­tance from whales, with spe­cial rules for white whales such as Mi­ga­loo and Chalkie.

Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion se­nior wildlife of­fi­cer Adam Northam said re­cent sight­ings of Mi­ga­loo were un­con­firmed.

“In Queens­land, whales that are to­tally white or pre­dom­i­nantly white are de­clared ‘ spe­cial in­ter­est marine mam­mals’,” Mr Northam said.

“This gives these whales ex­tra pro­tec­tion from dis­tur­bances by in­creas­ing the dis­tance that boats and other wa­ter­craft must keep from them,” he said.

“Un­der the Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Act, a ‘no ap­proach zone’ of 500 me­tres ap­plies for boats and jet skis and air­craft must not fly closer than 610 me­tres to spe­cial in­ter­est whales.

“Tough penal­ties ap­ply to any­one who breaches the ‘no ap­proach zone’ with a max­i­mum penalty of $19,437.

So keep your cam­eras at the ready, in case you spot our dear old friend.

If you do grab a snap, email your im­age to editor@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au and check out Chalkie’s Face­book page www.face book.com.au/chalki­ethe white­whale.

COULD IT BE: A com­par­i­son of re­cent footage and an im­age snapped in the Whit­sun­days..

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