Sunday, November 18, 2012

Viral YouTube video: extremely rare white humpback sighted off Norway

A sighting sure to warm the hearts of cetacean lovers: an extremely rare white humpback whale was sighted off the coast of Norway. The video, uploaded to YouTube and other streaming video sites on Wednesday, has gone viral.

British maritime engineer Dan Fisher, 32, Dan Fisher, 32, was on a boat trip to Svalbard in Norway when he noticed the white humpback whale swimming in a pod of normally pigmented humpbacks. He shinnied up the boat's mast to get a better look, and took a number of snapshots. The pictures were later published in The Daily Mail.

Fisher said,
When I spotted the white hump poking out of the water I was miffed as to what it was. But as soon as I realized it was a white whale, I was amazed.

I quickly climbed the mast to get a good vantage point and captured these pictures. Afterwards we were all talking and decided to dub him Willow the white whale.

Everyone I have told about it hasn't believed me until I show them the pictures. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime spot. I saw a lot of humpback whales this year but nothing as spectacular as this one.
Scientists believe Willow has leucism, which is different from albinism. Albinism affects levels of the pigment melanin. Leucism affects all skin pigments.

Willow is not the first white humpback whale to be sighted, but the first was relatively recently spotted, in 1991. Migaloo (an aboriginal Australian word meaning "white fella") is an all-white humpback whale known to migrate along the eastern coast of Australia. Prior to his sighting, no other all-white humpbacks had been seen, but others, including Willow, have been sighted since.

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