Ever heard of an albino killer whale? The first all-white adult killer whale to be seen in the wild was discovered by Russian scientists. They believe it to be the first-ever sighting of such a creature, reports the BBC.
The six-foot, pure white fin was found by scientists who were on a research cruise off the eastern coast of Russia, near the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands in the North Pacific.
“It is a breathtakingly beautiful animal,” Eric Hoyt, a scientist from the research cruise, told the AFP.
Hoyt is in charge of the Far East Russia Orca Project. It’s the same group that first saw the all-white whale and has been following killer whales in the area. The location the orca was spotted in has been protected for the past twelve years it is Russia’s largest Marine reserve. Though the group has seen and cataloged 1,500 orca whales to date, the all-white adult male, which they have conveniently named Iceberg, is one of a kind.
“This is the first time we have ever seen an all-white, mature male orca,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt explains that through the groups observations, Iceberg seem to be healthy and interacting with the other whales in his pod as a typical male-orca would.
“We know that these fish-eating orcas stay with their mothers for life, and as far as we can see he’s right behind his mother with presumably his brothers next to him,” he told the BBC.
The scientists think Iceberg is about 16-years-old, as evidence of the “somewhat ragged” nature of his large dorsal fin. Even though Orca males can live for 50 or 60 years, they usually only live until they are about 30-years-old.
“We’ve seen another two white orcas in Russia but they’ve been young,” Hoyt said.
In order to find out whether or not Iceberg is truly albino, his eyes would have to photographed.
“If we can get a full close-up of the eyes and they are pink, it would confirm Iceberg is an albino, but we don’t know much about albinism in orcas,” Hoyt said.
A mammal is considered albino when he/she is not able to produce melanin, a darker pigment.
Take a look at the vid of the all-white orca from ABC: