Vancouver Island Whale Watch tourists saw a white orca during a tour on May 28. (Vancouver Island Whale Watch Facebook)

Rare white orca seen in the strait near Nanaimo

Vancouver Island Whale Watch naturalist suggests orca is white due to genetics

While Captain Ahab wasn’t present, a whale-watching tour did happen to find a white whale close to Nanaimo during an excursion yesterday.

Vancouver Island Whale Watch posted photos on social media after coming across a white orca Tuesday, and Val Watson, a marine naturalist with the Nanaimo-based company on the mid-day tour, said it is not an everyday occurrence.

“For the tour we saw humpbacks and on the way back, about five minutes outside of Nanaimo, we came across a pod of orca and within that pod of orca there was a white individual,” said Watson. “It’s very rare. The last time it was recorded in our population was about 10 years ago, so it’s happened before, but it’s very uncommon.”

RELATED: Rare white raven seen on Vancouver Island

RELATED: Blonde raccoons remain elusive on Newcastle

Watson said it’s hard to determine whether it was an actual albino and the reasons why it was white, but genetics could be the reason for the orca’s complexion.

“There’s a couple of thoughts to it,” said Watson. “Nothing’s confirmed yet because it takes sampling, that we just don’t have access to, so what people are suggesting to us is that it’s Chediak-Higashi syndrome, which is a genetic condition that can cause albinism in mammals.”

As a white orca sighting doesn’t happen often, Watson said the tour was abuzz.

“There was a ton of excitement,” said Watson. “It’s really rare so it’s really incredible to get to see it. We weren’t really expecting to find something like that, so we were definitely excited.”



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo takes inventory of its land for official community plan review

Report recommends high-density residential development, identifies shortage of industrial land

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district considers COVID-19 lessons in planning for fall

Elementary, secondary school committees formed to plan for next school year

Infringing festival finds a way to dance during pandemic

Crimson Coast Dance Society holding drive-in, micro and physically distanced events July 10-19

Nanaimo RCMP arrest four, seize drugs and $19K in “problem house” search

Home was subject of numerous complaints of drug trafficking, theft and disturbances

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

Lower Mainland woman says llama farming neighbour shot her 11-month-old pup

Young dog was on owner’s Maple Ridge property when it was killed on June 21

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

Greater Victoria nanny pleads guilty to child porn, sexual interference charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to slew of sex crimes

Most Read