First Wild Adult White Killer Whale Spotted
Russian scientists and students, co-led by long-time orca scientist Erich Hoyt, have made what they believe to be the first known sighting of an adult white killer whale. The white whale appears to be not only healthy, but living a normal life amongst other orcas in its pod.
While white whales of numerous species have been spotted on occasion, the only known white orcas have been young. A Canadian aquarium once held a young white orca, one which was born with a rare genetic condition, which died in 1972.
Conservationist, author, and now senior research fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), Erich Hoyt, was quoted by the BBC having said:
“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. It has the full two-meter-high 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. 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.”
Orcas typically mature around the age of fifteen and the males can live up to 50 or 60 years old, though 30 is more common.
There is a possibility that researchers may attempt to take a biopsy from Iceberg, however, researchers are reluctant to do so and are instead hoping for an opportunity to utilize observational techniques such as checking the eye color in order to determine the cause of the unusual pigmentation.