It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a researchers team while sailing off the Alaskan coast. They spotted a pod of killer whales when suddenly something left them all speechless. They got the chance to see an extremely rare all-white killer whale. The unique encounter was captured on camera by Stephanie Hayes – a marine biology student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The rare sight occurred earlier this month not far from the Kuiu and Kupreanof Islands Alaska. The few lucky witnesses were on an Alaska Sea Adventures boat when a small group of killer whales caught their eyes. But nothing compares with the moment they spotted a very unusual one. While killer whales are usually black and white, this one was completely white.
“I saw kind of a glow under the water and I’m thinking, wow that’s an awfully white killer whale,” Stephanie Hayes told the media. “And no, it was just genuinely the white killer whale. And it popped up and you could hear an audible gasp from everybody on the bow, going ‘oh my gosh what are we seeing here?. It was really incredible.”
According to researchers, the extremely rare whale is a young male named Tl’uk – and it means ‘moon’ in the Coast Salish language, or T46-B1B(it’s official name) and when he got spotted he was swimming alongside two other typically looking killer whales.
Unlikely albino animals, Tl’uk didn’t have pink eyes. His rare condition is called leucism – a lack of vibrancy in the animal’s pigmentation. Either way, animals like Tl’uk are extremely vulnerable in the wild as they’re frequently rejected by their group or they’re very exposed in front of the predators. However it isn’t the case of Tl’uk whose doing very fine so far.
“He looked like a healthy member of the pod and was successfully hunting seals, which is excellent,” Stephanie explained. “Hopefully, we can monitor it and find out what happens in the life of a white killer whale. There have only been about eight white killer whales ever recorded in the world.”