whiteorca3.jpg
Thar He Blows!
The white whale was a type of orca that eats only fish.
Credit: H. Fearnbach/NMML NMFS permit 782-1719

Fisheries biologists cruising the remote Aleutian Islands on a pollock survey caught sight of one of the North Pacific’s rarest creatures: a white orca.

Rather than sporting the species’ iconic black-and-white markings, the animal swimming with its fish-eating pod two miles off Kanaga Volcano exhibited almost no visible pigment, according to scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Seeing the animal’s off-white dorsal fin breaking through the roiling waves as it cavorted with its family group made for an extraordinary moment.

“With hundreds of killer whales documented around the Aleutian Islands, this was equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack,” said Holly Fearnbach, a research biologist who was able to photograph the whale’s white fin and back.

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