Scientists have found what is thought to be the first sighting of an adult white orca (killer whale) off the coast of eastern Russia. The male orca, dubbed Iceberg, was seen near Kamchatka and appears to be healthy and living a socially engaged life in its pod.
Even though white whales of other species have been observed, the only known white orca wales have been young. One whale was born into captivity with a rare genetic condition in a Canadian aquarium in the early 1970s but died early on from Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a genetic condition that causes partial albinism as well as a number of medical complications.
Iceberg was spotted during a scientific research cruise recently and the cause of his unusual pigmentation is unknown. In recent years a white humpback whale nick-named Migaloo has drawn intense interest in Australia, while the Arctic beluga is naturally white. The most famous white whale, though, is the fictional sperm whale that drove Captain Ahab to his eventually fatal fury in Moby Dick.
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