Distance photo of the whale
Close-up photo of the creature
The sightings were made during a research cruise off Kamchatka by a group of Russian scientists and students, co-led by Erich Hoyt, the long-time orca scientist, conservationist and author who is now a senior research fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).
Researchers attached to the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP), co-founded and co-directed by Alexander M. Burdin and Erich Hoyt, first spotted the orca when its six-foot (two-metre) dorsal fin broke the surface near the Commander Islands in the Bering Sea in August 2010. He was living in a pod with 12 other orcas, and given the size of his dorsal fin was thought to be at least 16 years old.
"We've seen another two white orcas in Russia but they've been young, whereas this is the first time we've seen a mature adult,"
The cause of his unusual pigmentation is not known. The captive white orca, Chimo, suffered from Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a genetic condition that causes partial albinism as well as a number of medical complications.
It is unconfirmed whether Iceberg's pigmentation is albinism. FEROP is hoping in future expeditions to find out.