By Pete Thomas
A gray whale believed to be albino has been documented in Scammon’s Lagoon in Baja California, Mexico, for the first time in at least three years.
The same whale was spotted in 2008 and 2009, as a juvenile. It might also have been spotted in 2013, according to at least one report.
This time, though, the white whale is traveling with her calf, who is not albino. (Both whales can be seen in the accompanying video, and a second video showing basically the same footage. The footage was captured last week.)
The whale’s identity was confirmed this week by Benito Bermudez, regional director of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas.
Bermudez told BCS Noticas that the whale is albino, not leucistic, a condition also caused by a lack of pigment. However, nobody has provided photos showing pink eyes, which would prove that the cetacean is albino.
Bermudez said the whale was most likely born in Scammon’s Lagoon, known locally as Laguna Ojo de Liebre. He said there are only “three or four records” of albino gray whales worldwide.
About 21,000 gray whales feed during the summer in Arctic waters, and migrate to Baja California each winter to give birth and nurse their young.
The northbound migration is just beginning, and over the next several weeks more than 1,000 gray whale mothers and calves – the last to depart – will begin their 6,500-mile journey to and beyond Alaska.
Of course one whale will stand out among the others: the now-famous white whale from Scammon's Lagoon.
–Image is a video screen grab