First white orca seen in the wild

Here, from the Guardian via Matthew Cobb, is some nice footage of the first white orca (“killer whale,” Orcinus orca) seen in the wild.  As the article notes:

Scientists have filmed what is believed to be the first sighting of an adult white killer whale in the wild. The marine mammal, nicknamed Iceberg and believed to be at least 16 years old, was swimming with its mother and siblings in waters off the Kamchatka peninsula off the far eastern coast of Russia. Fully albino orcas can have weak immune systems and die young, but partial albinos can live into adulthood.

It’s not clear to me whether this is a true albino or a case of genetic leucism.  And I wonder if its pod-mates shun it, or even notice anything different? Surely they must.

Oh, and read my narwhal post, for crying out loud! It took hours.

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  1. Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Very cool.

    After wol week, this seems to be turning out to be whale week!


    • Christian
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Well, I for one have no problem with that 🙂

  2. Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    read your narwhal post & found it fascinating. I’m not surprised it took hours!

    • Dominic
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      I am saving it for tonight – it’ll take hours to read! Thanks for writing it.

      Do Killer Whales see in black & white though rather than colour?

  3. Smith Powell
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I also read your narwhal post and found it fascinating. I also liked the post on the odius William Craig Nelson. The truth is, I enjoy almost every post and look forward to reading them every day.

  4. Smith Powell
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Whoops. I got William Lane Craig’s name wrong.

    • Posted April 23, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      I prefer your original “William Lane Nelson” ~ it’s appropriately extra-pompous

  5. Posted April 23, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    This is the first time that I read your post and I find it truly fascinating. I also have read your narwhal post and it was a great read.

  6. FastLane
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    There are a couple of shots where the standard patterning of the orca can still be seen. So there are the normal white areas and the black areas are just very close to white, which makes me think Jerry’s hypothesis about Leucism is the correct one.

    Excellent pictures! I just watched the show last night about the orcas in SoCal that occasionally eat great white sharks, and it was fascinating.

    • SnowyOwl
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      When I first looked at the footage, my impression was “leucistic”… and, although I still cringe a bit at it, ornithologists now allow for “partial albinism” as a synonym in the bird world. No concern about the pink eye, etc. to be correct here anymore.
      In hawks — my area of interest — here’s a post about a lineage of white Red-tailed Hawks in eastern Massachusetts… visible from the Rt. 128 and Rt. 3 corridor.

  7. Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I read almost every single post on this website, regardless of subject. But while I would like to think that my dedication and intellectual curiosity are commendable and, more importantly, volitional traits that I can claim credit for exercising, I suspect that I couldn’t have done otherwise.

  8. KP
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    “Oh, and read my narwhal post, for crying out loud! It took hours.”

    Sir, yes sir!

    Haven’t been on the website in a few days, lots of catching up to do.

  9. Posted April 23, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I *LOVED* your Narwhal post, but had nothing of value to add in the comments. Don’t just assume a post’s popularity based on comments. I (and I’m probably not alone) will usually only comment when I have a question about something and/or think I spot an error. That’s my fault, and I will make an effort to send more “thanks, and keep up the good work” type comments. But the way your *website* is set up, you have no way of knowing which posts are popular or not. I can read everything without ever clicking anywhere, and you can’t possibly know which ones I read (almost all) and which ones I skip (the ones about boots). If you really want to know who’s reading what, you need to change the setup of the site. But please don’t. It’s fine as is.

  10. Posted April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and read my narwhal post, for crying out loud! It took hours.

    Read it. Loved it. Kept my mouth shut in the presence of those waaaaaaay more qualified than I.

    Moar, plz! KTHXBAI.


    • Posted April 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      (I should add: many of these sorts of posts I read in the email form from subscribing to the site. If you don’t see a pageview from me, please don’t think it’s because I wasn’t bothered enough to read it. Almost all the time, it’s because I read the email and didn’t see the point in commenting or reading the comments. b&)

  11. Nyanko Sensei
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I read and enjoyed your narwhal post and the comments. But could contribute nothing to the discussion. Now with this post on a white killer whale, maybe we can look forward to cetacean week?

    Since Iceberg seems to be swimming and interacting with his other killer whales, I don’t think they are shunning him, or at least actively not shunning. Maybe just at least, letting him hang around?

  12. Marella
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I read the narwhal post, I just didn’t comment because I couldn’t think of anything useful to say.

  13. Adam M.
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    “Oh, and read my narwhal post, for crying out loud! It took hours.”

    And it was great. Comprehensive, fascinating, with evidence for why evolution is true, too! Plus a scientific mystery to top it all off. 🙂 Thanks for it. Posts like that make this site great!

  14. Andrew
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Just a little more silent narwhal love. Please keep it up! 🙂

  15. Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    i read your narwhal post, and it was fascinating! this is also quite interesting.

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