Just a few miles off the coast of Laguna Beach, a ʀᴀʀᴇ ᴀʟʙɪɴᴏ dolphin was sighted swimming with a pod of 40 Risso’s dolphins.
Whale watchers off the coast of California’s Monterey Bay saw an ᴀʟʙɪɴᴏ ɴᴇᴡʙᴏʀɴ Risso dolphin in 2015. The all-white flipper has ʀᴇᴀᴘpeared, and it’s adorable as hell. They grow up in such a short amount of time!
Because ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ is a recessive trait, it is ᴇxᴛʀᴇᴍᴇly ᴜɴᴜsᴜᴀʟ in animals. The hereditary ᴅɪsᴏʀᴅᴇʀ that ᴄᴀᴜsᴇs a ʟᴀᴄᴋ of melanin production is handed down from parents to their chilᴅʀen. Aʟʙɪɴᴏ animals have white skin and pink eyes due to a ʟᴀᴄᴋ of melanin, the ᴘɪɢᴍᴇɴᴛ that gives our skin, hair, and eyes their color.
The ᴀʟʙɪɴᴏ dolphin appears to be a little more yellow in this year’s images than it did two years ago. According to Kate Cummings of the Blue Ocean Whale Watch, this is because of algae called diatoms.
“The dorsal fin 2015/2017 comparison photo shows the mother’s dorsal fin from 2015 and 2017 which helped us confirm it was the same dolphin we’d spotted in Monterey Bay in both 2015 and 2017,” she told Gizmodo. “ I believe this is the only known ᴀʟʙɪɴᴏ Risso’s dolphin in the eastern Pacific, and there are around 13,000-16,000 Risso’s in the California, Oregon and Washington stock.”
Risso’s dolphins are born ᴅᴀʀᴋ gray and lighten with age, owing to sᴄʀᴀᴛᴄʜes from other dolphins’ teeth, which is considered normal social behavior, as well as sᴄᴀʀring from the beaks and tentacles of squid, their major food source, according to Roame. However, the dolphin spotted Friday is rather unique for its complete ʟᴀᴄᴋ of color. Roame says it’s not known if the dolphin is a true ᴀʟʙɪɴᴏ or be ʟᴇᴜᴄɪsᴛɪᴄ, which indicates a variety of conditions that result in the partial ʟᴏss of ᴘɪɢᴍᴇɴᴛation in an animal.