facebook
twitter
search
search

All-white killer whale seen off Russia

April 23, 2012 at 8:20 PM

MOSCOW, April 23 (UPI) -- Russian scientists say they've made what they believe is the first sighting of an all-white adult orca, or killer whale, off the country's Kamchatka Peninsula.

The adult male, nicknamed Iceberg, appears to be healthy and leading a normal life in its pod, they said.

While various species of whale occasionally will present a white specimen, the only known white orcas have been young animals, with adults all showing the normal black and white coloration.

The sighting of the adult white orca occurred during a research cruise off Kamchatka by Russian scientists and students.

It was co-led by Erich Hoyt, a long-time orca scientist, conservationist and author.

"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," Hoyt told BBC News. "It has the full two-meter-high (6.5 feet) 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."

Male orcas can live to 50 or 60 years old, though 30 is more usual.

"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," Hoyt said.

Latest Headlines