The strange beauty of two white orcas swimming with their pod

Cetaceans are beings that surprise with their great size and intelligence and although there are different species of these, we cannot deny that the vast majority attract the attention of those who love the marine world for their amazing characteristics. Whale sightings are highly prized around the globe, but also of other cetaceans such as dolphins and orcas. In Japan, on the island of Hokkaido, dozens of marine life lovers gather to observe pods of orcas. And in one of these observations two orcas of strange beauty appeared, because their color was not similar to the others, but rather they were almost completely white.

The white orcas stood out from their pod due to the color of their skin, which was not the same as the characteristic black and white pattern. In the middle of the Kunashirskiy Strait, between Hokkaido and Kunashir, two islands in northern Japan, the orcas were seen by a group of observers.

According to a worker at the tour company dedicated to watching orcas, one of the two white orcas was older. She was seen for the first time two years ago on the coast of Japan and her skin color, a little darker than white, proves that she is older. But in an almost improbable event, another white orca also came with the pod. It is believed that this second orca is younger, since she had never been seen roaming the region. It is the first time that two cetaceans with these characteristics have been sighted together.

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Non-albino leucistic killer whales

The intrinsic characteristics of both animals suggest that it is not about . Albinism is distinguished by the inability to generate melanin at all, which is the compound that gives color to the skin, eyes, hair, and more. Therefore, if orcas had albinism, their color would be much whiter.

On the other hand, the pair of killer whales seen in Japan still have the traditional spots that surround the chin and eyes in normal specimens. The difference is that they are almost imperceptible to distinguish due to their light color. Thanks to this clue, it is believed that both orcas actually have a condition called leucism, which is an alteration in the production of melanin, but not the absence of it. Therefore, specimens are capable of generating a variable amount of melanin than they normally would.

It is for this reason that the pair of orcas have a noticeably lighter skin color than their pod mates. Without a doubt an experience that any lover of marine life would like to admire, unique orcas with unusual colors on them.

Are orcas whales or not?

Orcas in themselves are already very special animals, many believe that they belong to whales, although this is not the case. Orcas are not whales, in fact they are the only species belonging to the genus Orcinus that separates from the Delphinidae family. Simply put, orcas should not be identified as whales but rather as dolphins, albeit much larger ones.

Although whales, orcas and dolphins descend from the same common ancestor, this is why they all belong to the order of cetaceans. However, they separated their evolutionary paths into two groups a long time ago. On the one hand, there are the Odontoceti, which includes orcas, dolphins, belugas and sperm whales. And on the other, the Mysticeti where all the known species of whales are grouped.

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