An extremely rare white killer-whale calf named “Frosty” has been filmed off the coast of southern California.
In a video captured on April 25 by whale-watching tour company, Newport Coastal Adventure, the white orca calf was seen swimming with six other orcas near Newport Harbour in Southern California.
According to Fox 5, Newport Coastal Adventure were tipped off about the pod’s location around 10:30 by another whale watching tour company.
“On just a few hours’ notice, we loaded three boats for a special trip and drove 50 miles before we finally found the CA216 pod,” Newport Coastal Adventures writes in a caption alongside footage of the calf.
In the footage shared on Instagram by Newport Coastal Adventure, Frosty can be seen swimming alongside the other orca in the pod, which is known as CA216S, with his eye-catching and unusual white color.
According to Newport Coastal Adventures, Frosty has an extremely rare and unique genetic condition that gives the calf a lighter pigment than normal killer whales. Frosty is completely white except for a greyish dorsal fin and head.
The passengers on the whale-watching tour were able to watch the orcas for more than two hours as they swam up the coastline until sunset. The pod even approached the boat on several occasions.
The pod occasionally turns up in other parts of the world. They have been sighted as far south as Mexico, and as far North as Canada. However, they have not reportedly been seen in the California area in over three years.
‘Completely Accepted in Their Pods’
Whale and Dolphin Conservation spokesperson Danny Groves tells Newsweek that white orcas are not “outcasts as some people may think” and “they are completely accepted in their pods.”
Several known conditions cause certain animals, including orcas, to look white. One condition is the extremely rare leucism, which is a genetic condition that causes the unusual coloring and the pigmentation of the skin to be paler. The other is Chediak-Higashi syndrome, an inheritable immune deficiency that can cause partial albinism.
Frosty the orca is leucistic — which is an extremely rare condition in killer whales.
“Probably there are disadvantages to the affected whale not carrying the evolutionarily-adapted regular pigmentation similar to those faced by albino humans such as reduced solar protection,” Luke Rendell, a lecturer in biology at the Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, tells Newsweek.
“Albino or otherwise uniquely-colored creatures can also be subject to increased risk in the wild, for example, they will have less camouflage to help them hide from predators.
“Importantly, one big risk for any white whale or dolphin is the unwanted attention from us! Disturbing whales and dolphins disrupts their natural behaviors and can cause them stress.”
Image credits: Header photo via Instagram/@newportcoastaladventure.