All-white killer whale spotted outside of Russia
'Iceberg' found swimming with pod of 12 other whales
The worlds only reported all-white male killer whale has been spotted in
the Pacific Ocean off of Russia, scientists say. Called "Iceberg" by
the scientists, the Orca was spotted swimming with a pod of 12 others.
Iceberg has a 6.5-foot-high dorsal fin and is at least 16 years old,
according Erich Hoyt, co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project.
Camera-shy 'Iceberg,' a rare all-white killer whale shows his fin to scientists in this rare photo.
Hoyt wrote on his blogspot that two other white orcas have been seen in area, but Iceberg is the first fully grown male.
"In many ways, Iceberg is a symbol of all that is pure, wild and extraordinarily exciting about what is out there in the ocean waiting to be discovered," Hoyt said in a statement.
"We first saw Iceberg in August 2010 and we have only seen him once since then. We hoped to get more pictures, video and recordings in 2011 so we kept the photos quiet. Now we are heading out in 2 weeks to try to find him and his pod, and do our studies, and so we decided to announce it and release the photos now.
"This [is] the first all-white male killer whale we have found. I have worked off the west coast of Canada with killer whales beginning in 1973, and as co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project since 1999. We have seen two other white young orcas in Russia only in that period. The amazing thing about Iceberg is that he is a mature male so he has survived at least 16 years and is apparently healthy, and not an outcast or anything but travelling with his pod of 13," Hoyt said in an interview.
When asked what caused Iceberg's unique coloration, Hoyt was honest. "We don't know. We don't even know if he is an albino or partial albino. We hope to get a glimpse of the eye to see if it is pink.
"The pink eye, absence of pigment, would be characteristic of albinism. But we are not experts in albinism (only in killer whales), so if we do a paper on albinism we will collaborate with some expert in this field generally with other mammals.
Another mysterious factor behind Iceberg's coloration is that it makes him stand out. "Whiteness makes it stand out to predators. But in the case of orcas they don't have predators. The key thing we can say is that the animal is apparently fully accepted by its pod, travelling with it."
Hoyt also wrote that researchers will return to the waters where Iceberg was spotted later this year in hopes of finding him again to determine whether he is an albino or if there is some other reason for his white color.
The researchers hope the presence of Iceberg will help efforts to expand marine reserves along the Russian coast.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Orca, coloration, albino, Russia, killer whale
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