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

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

Just Posted

Ballenas students help keep essential community services going

Club donates $1,000 to SOS Grateful Hearts campaign

Rebound recovery program helps more than 50 PQB businesses remain open

Nearly $90K in aid received through Oceanside Initiatives plan

Parksville-area family receives anonymous letters complaining children are being too loud

Letter said the noise of kids playing in the backyard is ‘unbearable’

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Most Read