Rare White Orca Seen Off Russia May Have Been Alaska Visitor Too
Posted: April 25, 2012 | By: Craig Welch [Seattle Times]
On a sparkling summer morning in 2010, a group of Russian scientists
working near the Kamchatka Peninsula spied a giant swimming ghost: an
exceedingly rare, all-white killer whale, diving and surfacing as part
of an ordinary orca pod.
"It was startling to see this 2-meter-high white dorsal fin shooting
up among the other killer whales," said Erich Hoyt, who oversees the
Russian whale-research group that announced the 2-year-old sighting this
week by releasing photographs and video. "It takes your breath away."
But it wasn't the first time such a creature made waves. In 2000, a
University of Washington seabird ecologist trailed and photographed an
all-white adult orca for a half-hour off Alaska's central Aleutian
Islands. Eight years later, a whale biologist photographed the same
animal, identifying it by a shark-bite scar and telltale ripples on its
Hoyt agreed Tuesday that the Russian whale his team has nicknamed
"Iceberg" may well be the same creature that made those appearances in
Alaska. If not, at least two extraordinarily unusual all-white adult
male orcas may be living in the North Pacific.
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