Rare Albino Dolphin Spotted in California
Early this month, Blue Ocean Whale Watch, a whale-watching company, uploaded a photo on Instagram of a white (albino) dolphin they spotted in California’s Monterey Bay. Apparently, it is the same calf that the organization spotted two years ago.
“Albino Risso’s dolphin today! The same calf/juvenile we encountered two years ago. Also lunge-feeding humpback whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins,” the caption of the IG post reads.
In an interview with Live Science, naturalist and co-owner of the whale-watching company Kate Cummings explained that “Albinism in the wild is incredibly rare and I believe this is the only known albino Risso’s dolphin in the eastern Pacific.”
Albino animals, similar to humans, have white or pinkish skin considering that the pigment, called melanin, that provides the skin, hair, and eyes with color is not functioning properly or defective.
Cummings shared that although people may find the albino dolphin cute, albinism can result in serious health concerns for animals. Similar to humans, albino animals are more at risk of developing skin-related problems because their skin lacks protection provided by melanin.
“Albino animals may be more prone to skin problems because there’s no melanin to protect the skin from UV (ultraviolet) rays and they can have poor eyesight and hearing,” says Cummings.
Fortunately, in the case of the infamous albino dolphin in Monterey Bay, Cummings said that the animal “appears healthy.”
The albino dolphin, during the time of the sighting, was swimming with its mother and a pod of about 50 Risso’s dolphin (scientifically known as Grampus griseus) composed of adults and calves. Apparently, the group is “most likely on the hunt for squid, their favorite food source.”
Risso’s dolphin also feeds on fish, octopus, and cuttlefish. One of the distinguishing marks of this species is the many scar marks on their back and sides because of the absence of repigmentation and their extremely slow healing process.
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