White killer whale 1st ever filmed in wild
Rare footage of orca released after 2 years as scientists embark on expedition
A team of Russian marine scientists is sailing the North Pacific on a quest to find Iceberg, the world's only known all-white male killer whale.
Researchers with the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP) revealed on Monday that they succeeded in filming the elusive creature in 2010, but held back on publicizing the rare find until now, as they wanted to study him further.
They have been looking for Iceberg ever since.
The possibly albino mammal is believed to be the first one ever observed in the wild. He was observed in the North Pacific, east of the Kamchatka Peninsula near the Commander Islands, according to a release on Monday.
Scientists described the unique orca with awe, saying "his towering two-meter white dorsal fin breaking the surface" reminded them of a glacier on the water.
Seen swimming with 12 relatives
Iceberg is believed to be about 16 years old and was seen in a pod with a dozen relatives.
"In many ways, Iceberg is a symbol of all that is pure, wild and extraordinarily exciting about what is out there in the ocean waiting to be discovered," said Erich Hoyt, the co-director of FEROP.
"The challenge is to keep the ocean healthy so that such surprises are always possible."
The scientists said they want to continue observing Iceberg to try to determine whether the bull orca is a "true albino." Pink eyes would indicate Iceberg is an albino.
Scientists said the area where Iceberg was spotted two years ago is one of Russia's largest marine reserves, and are calling for its protection as a "critical habitat" of whale, dolphin and porpoise species off eastern Russia.
Overfishing in the area around the Commander Islands has been a concern for marine conservationists.