The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas in Mexico recently posted a Facebook video depicting a rare albino whale, commonly known as “Gallon Milk.”
The giant creature was seen in all its glory while specialists were conducting an annual whale census on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
It’s safe to say this was a lucky sighting for Mexican conservation officials, since the extremely rare albino female whale had last been seen in 2009.
The video shows the whale swimming in Mexican waters, near Baja California Sur, accompanied by an offspring, which did not have any trouble keeping up with the fast pace of its parent.
According to CONANP reports, 2,211 gray whales were spotted this year in the Ojo de Liebre lagoon from El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, which scientists have been observing for 20 years. Out of all those specimens, 1,004 are calves which were born in Mexico.
An albino whale is particularly rare, seeing how marine mammals don’t usually present this type of gene mutation, that would decrease their pigment melanin. This is usually a condition encountered in land mammals, birds and reptiles, either in the wild or in captivity.
The white gray whale is a highly endangered species, migrating yearly between feeding and breeding sites, which is why scientists try to monitor it annually in order to ensure their continual survival.
These great creatures may reach a 70 year lifespan, weigh 40 tons and grow up to to 50 feet in length.
According to Bruce Mate, who is the director of the Marine Mammal Institute from Oregon State University, whales tend to learn from a young age how to follow their parents’ migration patterns, by swimming along their mothers from the breeding areas to the foraging grounds.
For many years, the gray whale was considered an endangered species, mainly because of commercial hunting. In 1995 it was removed from the endangered species list, since the protection laws contributed to its recovery.
Nevertheless, it continues to face a wide number of threats, starting from environmental changes, such as pollution and habitat loss, to shipping activities (e.g. the risk of entanglement in fishing gear or ship strikes).
Currently, the gray whale populations thrive in the eastern and western sides of the Pacific Ocean and are thought to be separated from each other.
It is believed that the Western Pacific population may be severely endangered, with only 130 of them left.
Image Source: IBtimes