Russian scientists claim they have spotted the first ever adult albino killer whale (or orca) in the wild. Albino orcas have been spotted before, but this is the first mature adult sighting. The whale was nicknamed “Iceberg.”
The fully white adult male with a six-foot long dorsal fin was spotted during a research cruise along the eastern coast of Russia, near the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands in the North Pacific. Eric Hoyt is one of the scientists who was on the mission, he heads the Far East Russia Orca Project. He says the group has sighted and catalogued about 1,500 whale so far in this area which has been Russia’s largest marine reserve for the past 12 years.
Researchers believe Iceberg is at least 16 years old and is healthy and interacting normally with the other whales in his pod. In an interview with the BBC, Hoyt said, “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.”
The research team will be tracking Iceberg and his pod over the summer to determine whether the whale is in fact albino, a genetic condition that leaves animals unable to produce melanin, a darker pigment. View the video below to see the footage of the rare whale.