Killer whales are the only whale to prey on other warm-blooded animals. Like wolves, they are pack hunters and will even attack a lame blue whale.


White adult killer whale spotted for the first time

Picture taken of white killer whale off east coast of Russia

Killer whales are known for their distinct black and white markings but in April 2012 a completely white, adult male was spotted off the coast of eastern Russia.  Other white killer whales have been known but often don't grow to be very old - so to see an adult male is something quite peculiar.

In fact, this is thought to be the first ever sighting of an adult white killer whale.  Iceberg, as the whale has been named, is believed to be at least 16 years old as he has a fully developed 2 metre dorsal fin - that's taller than a lot of people!  The dorsal fin is the one that sticks out of the water and Iceberg's is a bit ragged so he may be even older.  Killer whales have been known to live up to 50 or 60 years but 30 years is most common.

This unique killer whale highlights the great biodiversity of this volcanic area of Russia which is home to many species of dolphins, seals, sea lions, birds and whales.  The American scientist, Erich Hoyt, who helps lead a research project studying the animals in the area said that Iceberg was "one of the most beautiful orcas anyone has ever seen".

White killer whales that have been born in captivity have been born with a genetic condition which causes the distinct change in markings, but also brings with it a lot of medical complications which is why they often die young.  This sighting has excited scientists and researchers who are hoping to learn more about this special individual and determine how and why he might be different.

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