By Mike Jones
These stunning images capture the moment a very rare white orca calf emerged from the water.
The whale, named ‘Kanaka’ was spotted near Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada last month by marine naturalist Val Watson.
Kanaka’s unique pigmentation is an extremely rare sight. The last time a white orca was seen in BC was more than a decade ago.
The whale is known as T46B1B and is part of a growing population of orcas in BC.
Val Watson was onboard with Vancouver Island Whale Watch when she spotted the whale.
She said: “What a spectacular day on the water- at first I thought the light was playing a trick on my eyes, but after snapping a few photos we were able to determine that Kanaka is in fact a white whale.
“Kanaka’s pod often travels through Dodd Narrows, so we are looking forward to seeing them regularly.”
Jared Towers, a researcher with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans suggested several possible causes for the whale’s unique pigmentation.
He said: “Albino is a pretty strong inference in this case- it is likely that this individual is simply leucistic, although we can not rule out partial-albinism associated with a congenital disorder like Chediak-Higashi syndrome.”