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Home* News and Stories → White hump­back wha­le again seen in Sval­bard

White hump­back wha­le again seen in Sval­bard

White hump­back wha­les are a very rare phe­no­me­non. Glo­bal­ly, sci­en­tists know of three indi­vi­du­als. Two of them live in Aus­tra­li­an waters and a third one in the north Atlan­tic. The lat­ter one has recent­ly been seen again for the first time in years. First sightin­gs date back to 2004 and 2006, then near the north Nor­way coast. In August 2012, a white hump­back wha­le was sigh­ted seve­ral times east of Spits­ber­gen. It was most likely the same ani­mal as in 2004 and 2006. No pho­tos are known from tho­se ear­ly sightin­gs, but in 2012, a num­ber of ama­zing shots were taken. Espe­ci­al­ly note­wor­t­hy are tho­se taken by Dan Fisher, mate on the sai­ling ship Anti­gua, from the mast of the ship. Due to the high per­spec­ti­ve, almost the who­le ani­mal can be seen on the pho­tos.

Hump­back wha­les live in all of the world’s oce­ans. They are usual­ly most­ly dark grey to black. The bot­tom side and parts of the flu­ke and flip­pers are part­ly white. The exact pat­tern can be used to iden­ti­fy indi­vi­du­als, just like the fin­ger­print of humans.

Com­ple­te­ly white hump­back wha­les are very rare. The unu­su­al colour is usual­ly due to leu­cism, a par­ti­al loss of pig­men­ta­ti­on which leads to pale or white colour. Only one of the two white hump­back wha­les in Aus­tra­lia is actual­ly an albi­no.

Now, the­re has been a sight­ing of a white hump­back wha­le in the north Atlan­tic, the first one sin­ce 2012. The wha­le was seen in late Sep­tem­ber by sci­en­tists on board the rese­arch ves­sel Johan Hjort in eas­tern Sval­bard. This area is often fre­quen­ted by hump­back wha­les at this time of the year.

White hump­back wha­le in Hin­lo­pen Strait, pho­to­gra­phed on August 11 2012 by Dan Fisher.

White humpback whale

Source: Hav­forsk­nings­in­sti­tuttet



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last modification: 2017-10-03 · copyright: Rolf Stange