Posted Monday, April 23, 2012, at 1:27 PM
Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images
An extremely rare white orca has been seen swimming off the far eastern coast of Russia in what researchers believe to be the first such sighting in the wild.
The adult killer whale, whose tall, white dorsal fin has earned it the nickname “Iceberg,” has been swimming alongside its mother and siblings, and scientists are hoping to get close enough to determine if the orca is fully albino. "If we can get a full close-up of the eyes and they are pink, it would confirm Iceberg is an albino, but we don't know much about albinism in orcas," Erich Hoyt of the Far East Russia Orca Project told the Guardian.
Fully albino orcas usually have weak immune systems and die young, but Iceberg is unique—Hoyt believes the orca to be at least 16 years old, judging by its size.
Video produced by Jim Festante.