In Photos: A Rare Albino Risso's Dolphin
This albino Risso's dolphin was spotted near Moss Landing in California on June 7, 2017 by Blue Ocean Whale Watch. The juvenile was swimming with its mom and a pod of about 50 other Risso's dolphins, including many juveniles.
[Read the full story on the albino dolphin]
Before the 2017 sighting, Cummings and her crew hadn't seen this albino dolphin since Sept. 29, 2015.
In September 2015 Blue Ocean Whale Watch spotted an albino Risso's dolphin in Monterey Bay and got pictures of it with its mother. Then, on June 7, 2017, they spotted an albino Risso's dolphin with its mother in Monterey Bay and compared the dorsal fin IDs of the mother from each sighting to confirm they were a match. "We did this to make sure it was the same albino Risso's dolphin we had spotted two years ago. Besides being all white, [an] albino dolphin has no identifying marks, whereas the mother has unique pigment and scars to help identify her."
Searching for squid
The albino dolphin is likely about 3 years old, according to Kate Cummings, co-owner of Blue Ocean Whale Watch. The group was likely a nursery pod of dolphins searching for squid, their favorite food, Cummings said.
The bodies of Risso's dolphins are typically heavily scarred. Squid and other prey leave circular markings on the dolphins. In addition, the dolphins' teeth raking up against one another also leave scars, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Risso's dolphins are the only cetaceans with a vertical crease on the forehead. In addition, they have indistinguishable beaks, giving their face a blunt shape.
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Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.