Scientists Spot White Killer Whale Off Coast of Alaska…

Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm ET

Feathers and Fur, The Rest

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Finally putting an end to the myth that all killer whales are predominantly black.

Photo of white killer whale challenges traditional stereotypes about the appearnace of killer whales

Compiled, en Frump, from AP Reports — Researchers were scrambling for cameras last week after a white killer whale was spotted off the Alaskan coast.  “I had heard stories, legends really, about white killers, but we had never been able to find one ourselves,” said Holly Fearnbach, a research biologist with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle.  “I had resigned myself to think that all killers were black, for the most part”, Ms. Fearnbach, who is credited with photographing the beast, added.

Fearnbach, a specialist in killer whales’ appearance, behavior, and mating rituals, said the whale stuck out like a sore thumb.  “When you looked at it, it was very white”, she said.   “It didn’t swim as fast, it could hardly leap out of the water at all, and its movements were less fluid than nearly all of the traditional black killer whales we’ve studied.”  Fearnbach continued:  “In addition, the rarity of these white killers leads me to believe that they’re probably less desirable to potential mates, and lack the sexual reproductive prowess of their black, only slightly white counterparts.”

Other experts in the field are not as surprised by the recent sighting.  Dr. Billy Ray Washington of the Center for Objective Marine Biology Analysis suggests that white killer whales are not as rare as many researchers would have us believe.  “I’ve seen several white killer whales over the course of my career.  Unfortunatley, the media tends to ignore the relative prevalence of white killers, and instead projects the false reality that all killers are predominantly black, for the most part,” Dr. Washington said.  “Whether it’s Hollywood, the national media, or Sea World, the public is constantly fed misinformation about the ratio of black to white killer whales.  I’m just glad a white killer is getting some press for a change.”

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