Scientists have sighted a white adult orca or killer whale, during a research of acoustic and social interactions among whales and dolphins, off the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia.
According to researchers it was an adult male, whom they called Iceberg, was a six foot tall white dorsal and swimming with its mother and siblings, and seemed to be completely accepted by its family members. The white whale appears to be in good physical shape and living a normal life in the ocean.
White whales are never heard of, though only young white orcas are thought to have been seen by marine conservationists before.
White whales of several species are not commonly seen, and the only known white orcas were young, in which one of them had unusual genetic problem and eventually died in Canadian aquarium in 1972.
Erich Hoyt, who was heading the team of researchers, said in an interview to BBC News that “We’ve seen another two white orcas in Russia but they’ve been young, whereas this is the first time we’ve seen a mature adult.” He further added “It has the full two-metre-high dorsal fin of a mature male, which means it’s at least 16 years old – in fact the fin is somewhat ragged, so it might be a bit older.”
The maturity age of an orca is 15, and males can survive for at most 60 years. Previously, the whale that was seen in 2000 and 2008 was darker as compared to Iceberg, but from Hyot’s point of view the change in color is because of the algae on the skin, which would likely made a white animal look a bit darker.
As a whole, “finding a beautiful animal like Iceberg shows us that there are still great surprises to be found in the least visited parts of the ocean,” Hoyt added.
“I would hope that Iceberg would help motivate people not only to save whales but to save their habitat, their homes in the sea.”