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Incredibly Rare White Risso's Dolphin Named Casper Snapped In California

Jake Massey

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Incredibly Rare White Risso's Dolphin Named Casper Snapped In California

An extremely rare white Risso's dolphin has been photographed off the coast of California.

Casper - whose name I shouldn't have to explain - was first spotted in Monterey Bay in 2015 but has been rarely seen since. He is one of only a handful to have ever been sighted across the globe.

Casper the friendly dolphin. Credit: Caters
Casper the friendly dolphin. Credit: Caters

The fact he has been pictured again is great news, as his survival is far from guaranteed, with his distinctive appearance making him vulnerable to predators.

Experts believe Casper is albino, as he has never been pictured with his eyes open, which could indicate that the glare of the sea is too strong for him.

Photographer Jodi Frediani captured the latest snaps of the fella during a recent trip with Monterey Bay Whale Watch. She too believes that he is albino.

She said: "Folks have said they cannot tell if Casper is leucistic or albino, as we cannot see his eye.

"I'm going with albino, with the eye closed as a clue. I'm guessing an albino eye would find the light and ocean glare too much.

"Casper does have a few 'freckles' but albinos are not always totally lacking in pigment.

"We saw several grey whales and a pair of humpback whales, who even lunge fed - which is my very favourite thing to see - but Casper definitely stole the show."

He's thought to be albino. Credit: Caters
He's thought to be albino. Credit: Caters

Speaking after he was sighted for a second time in 2017, Josh McInnes, researcher coordinator at Marine Life Studies, said he wasn't confident about Casper's future.

He told IFLScience: "We do not know much about the foraging patterns of Risso's dolphin. We do know they specialize in squid. This animal may find feeding easier by group living.

"I wonder [sic] the outcome for the white Risso though."

Who knows, perhaps Casper could be the next Migaloo? You know, the only pure white humpback whale who has been kicking about for decades.

Give us a wave. Credit: Caters
Give us a wave. Credit: Caters

Speaking to The National last year, Natalie Banks, founder of UAE marine conservation organisation Azraq, said: "Young Risso's dolphins are a grey, olive-brown colour. But as they get older, they get whiter and whiter - a result of numerous scars and scratches, usually from other Risso's dolphins during social interactions.

"However, it is extremely rare to see an albino Risso's dolphin. There have been very few sightings of albino Risso's dolphins globally.

"Sadly, albino marine species stand out to predators and the albinism can be tied to numerous health issues such as poor eyesight and extreme susceptibility to sunlight.

"However, albino marine species have been known to live for many years, including Migaloo, the world's most famous humpback whale, first spotted in 1991 and recently spotted again in Australia."

Featured Image Credit: Caters

Topics: Awesome, Animals, dolphin

Jake Massey
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