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Last Updated: Thursday July 02 2009 06:57 GMT

Protection for white whale

Migaloo travels up the coast

The Australian government has given a rare white whale special protection, banning people from going anywhere near him as he swims along their coast.

The humpback has been declared a "special-interest whale", and no-one is allowed within 500m of him.

He's known as Migaloo, which means "white fella", and according to experts is the only known all-white humpback whale in the world.

It's thought Migaloo is migrating up the coast to the Great Barrier Reef.

People have been interested in Migaloo since he was first spotted back in 1991.

"The whale-watching regulations are there to protect the whales, but also to protect people from these huge, unpredictable animals," said Queensland's Environment Minister Kate Jones.

"Adult humpbacks can weigh more than a fully-loaded semi-trailer so you need to stay out of their way," she added.