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

B.C. whale watchers come across rare white orca

Vancouver Island Whale Watch tour spotted the killer whale near Nanaimo on Tuesday

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

Just Posted

Swimming advisory issued for Summerland beach

Bacterial counts exceed guidelines

Civil claim filed over motocross track west of Summerland

Track was constructed on agricultural land around 2016

Car catches fire while being towed by motor home on Hwy. 97

The incident occured just north of Sage Mesa Rd., no injuries have been reported

Repair work to begin on lakeshore paths in Summerland

Paths were damaged during spring flooding in 2017 and 2018

LETTER: Repair work overdue at lakeside path

Condition of walkway is a disgrace for Summerland

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Okanagan Nation bringing overdose awareness to Syilx Okanagan communities

The Purple Ribbon Campaign for International Overdose Awareness Day is Aug. 28

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Most Read