From Wildlife Extra:
Albino Humpback whale seen off Svalbard
White Humpback whale off Spitzbergen
October 2012. These extraordinary photos were very kindly sent to us by Dan Fisher, who is a crew member on the SV Antigua, a beautiful 3 masted sailing ship that can sail the waters off the Svalbard Archipelago in summer. Dan spotted this beautiful white Humpback, and took some fantastic photos of the whale. Wildlife Extra believes that the whale is an albino, as we can see no colouration at all on the whale, and there does seem to be a pink tinge to his/her eyes and mouth.
White whales are unusual, but not unheard of. After Moby Dick, probably the most famous white whale is another white Humpback, known as Migaloo, who has been seen over the last 20 years off the coast of Queensland in Australia. Last October, a white Humpback calf was also seen off the Queensland Coast, and in the last few years we have also received images and reports of white Killer whales off Alaska & Russia (possibly the same whale), several white Southern right whale calves off South Australia, and an albino dolphin off Louisiana.
Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.
Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches.
This occasionally causes very excited biologists to think they have discovered a new species, when in fact leucism is the cause of the unusual markings they have seen. Click here to see our gallery of leucistic animals and birds.
See also here.
- Albino humpback whale spotted off Australian coast (telegraph.co.uk)
- Rare albino whale puts on a show off Australian coast (cnn.com)
- Migaloo, perhaps the world’s only white humpback whale, has been spotted off the coast of Australia! [Biology] (io9.com)
- WATCH: Rare All-White Humpback Whale Surfaces (huffingtonpost.com)
- Video: Albino Humpback Whale Off Australia’s East Coast (gadling.com)