An incredibly rare albino killer whale, who scientists feared may have died, has been spotted for the first time in four years.
The “breathtakingly beautiful” all-white orca whale, named Iceberg after his towering two-meter-high dorsal fin, is one of only four known albino whales ever seen in the wild, and is the only one to have reached adulthood.
Iceberg was around 16 when he was first noticed by Russian scientists near the Commander Islands in the North Pacific in 2010, but killer whales can live up to 60 years old. He was living with 12 family members in his pod, the rest of whom are black and white.
Understandably, natural scientists are incredibly excited by the rediscovery of Iceberg. His white coloring would have provided poor camouflage and, after four years off the radar, experts feared the worst.
Erich Hoyt, of the Far East Orca Project (FEROP), said, “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.”
“We’ve seen another two white orcas in Russia but they’ve been young, whereas this was the first time we’d seen a mature adult.”
“It had the full two-meter-high dorsal fin of a mature male, which meant he was at least 16 years old — in fact, the fin’s somewhat ragged, so it might be a bit older.”
And the scientist is keen to find out more about Iceberg and his behavior, adding: “Iceberg seems to be fully socialized. 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.”
“We would like to find out how he is able to survive as a white whale.”
Just one in 10,000 killer whales are completely white, and it’s extremely reassuring to see Iceberg after such a long absence, as groups like FEROP fear the damage industry, hunting, and pollution may be doing to marine wildlife.
And we have to agree with Hoyt when he describes the mammal as, “breathtakingly beautiful”.
We wish you a long, happy, fish-eating life, Iceberg!