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Nature Two white orcas spotted off Hokkaido


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Two rare white orcas (シャチ shachi), often called "phantoms," were spotted near Shiretoko Peninsula on 17 June. A crew member from a sightseeing cruise took multiple photos of these unique creatures. It's the first simultaneous sighting of two white orcas since 2021, although one was seen off Rausu last year. Masato Hasegawa, a 62-year-old captain from Shiretoko Nature Cruise, expressed his awe at witnessing the orcas' majestic swimming, noting the event's rarity and the delight it brought to the tourists.


Photo credit: Shiretoko Nature Cruise

Hiroshi Oizumi, a professor of marine ecology at Tokai University, said there are two factors that can cause animals to appear pale or white rather than the normal coloration of their species. The first is albinism, which means an organism is genetically unable to synthesize melanin, which normally creates color pigments. The second is leucism, which works differently from albinism.

Assumedly, the same pair was seen in 2019 and 2021.

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