California whale watchers caught a glimpse of an exquisite sight this week when they spotted a rare albino dolphin. According to Atlas Obscura, albinos animals are rare to find in the wild on land, but it’s even rarer to spot an albino sea creature. The little albino dolphin was determined to be a 3-year-old Risso dolphin or Grampus griseus. The pure white dolphin was seen swimming with its mother in California’s Monterey Bay on June 7 about 3 miles offshore close to Moss Landing on Princess Monterey Whale Watching trip, according to Daily Mail. He was spotted in this photo looking quite happy with his mommy and other dolphin buddies.
“The highlight was seeing this juvenile albino Risso’s dolphin which appears yellow due to diatoms growing on its skin. We did some detective work to figure out if it’s the same albino calf we spotted two years ago in September of 2015,” read a post on Ocean Whale Watch’s Facebook page. “Since the albino dolphin has virtually no identifying marks besides being all white, we looked at scars and pigment on its mother’s dorsal fin from both sightings and it’s a match!”
“Albinism in the wild is incredibly rare, and I believe this is the only known albino Risso’s dolphin in the eastern Pacific,” Cummings told Live Science. Albino animals have an all white or sometimes pink appearance. This is because their cells don’t produce melanin properly or at all. Melanin is what give your skin, hair, and eyes color. Albino animals will sometimes have pink eyes because of the light that reflects off of their red blood vessels inside the dolphin’s retinas.
Melanin in the eyes of non-albino animals will absorb incoming light and prevent any reflection off of the retina. Unfortunately, an albino dolphin’s beautiful white appearance may also indicate that they will endure some health issues. Cummings and her crew said they are hoping to see more of the albino dolphin in the future. “Hoping we don’t have to wait years to see it again -Albi maybe it’ll stick around!” their Facebook post read. “We’ll definitely be on the lookout.”
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