Team member Katie Cummings managed to capture images and photos of an incredibly real marine mammal
It was 3-year-old dolphin Risso, first spotted in 2014 when he was just a few months old. The whale watching team immediately recognized him and were more than happy to see him in very good health.
“Seeing a dolphin made me feel special because it’s such a rare sight. I saw this same dolphin two years ago – he’s about three now – but he’s still with his mother.
The dolphin’s unusual skin color is due to albinism. A rare condition occurs when cells fail to produce melanin, the pigment that stains the skin. Albinism has been observed in more than 20 marine species, but it is quite rare in dolphins.
These animals are very cute, but the rare disease brings them a lot of health and social problems, the most common being poor vision. They are also often shunned by their groups and their unusual appearance makes them extremely vulnerable to predators.
“Albino animals may be more prone to skin problems because they lack melanin that protects the skin from UV rays and may have poor vision and hearing,” Cummings said. “As far as we can tell, this teenager looks in good shape.”