Russian scientists believe they have first seen a white orca adult. The white killer whale was spotted on the east coast of Russia and has nearly 16 years.The male killer whale (Orcinus orca), which has been called Iceberg, was near the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia, and looked healthy.
Only occasionally have been sighted in the past white orcas, but has always been very young individuals, including a whale that died of a genetic disease in a Canadian aquarium in 1972.
Scientists were along the coast of Kamchatka expedition coliderada by Erich Hoyt, conservationist, orca expert and member of the Society for the Conservation of Whales and Dolphins, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, WDCS.
"The dorsal fin is six feet long, which means having at least 16 years of age. The flap also contains many brands, so it could be even greater."Orcas reach maturity around 15 years. Males have an average life expectancy of about 30 years but may live 50 or 60 years.
The killer whale was sighted in Kamchatka in a family. "Iceberg (as he was baptized in this issue) seems to be part of a society. We know that killer whales that feed on fish (and mammals such as seals) stay with their mothers for life. We believe that this adult is his mother and his brothers, "said Hoyt .
No one knows for sure why the white whale has a different pigmentation. The captive orca in the aquarium of Canada, Chima, was suffering from Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a disease that causes partial albinism and a number of medical complications.
Scientists could eventually Iceberg biopsy, but the consensus among experts is that the whale should not be disturbed unless there is an urgent reason for conservation.
The expedition co-directed by Hoyt is the "Project Orca Far East to Russia." Scientists have been monitoring acoustic and visual signals of orcas and have published several studies on communication between whales.
The mission could help understand the complex societies of killer whales, which can live in matrilineal clans, family groups or superclanes very numerous.Another side project seeks to study and conserve the habitat of whales and dolphins in the Russian coast.
In recent years, a white humpback whale nicknamed Migaloo has attracted media attention in Australia. Other cetaceans of this color include the Arctic beluga, which is naturally white.But perhaps the most famous of all white whale is a fictional character, the sperm that led to the persecution of Captain Ahab in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.