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An Albino Dolphin Was Spotted Off the Coast of Florida

It is only the 15th albino dolphin sighting recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

smithsonian.com

The video above was captured by a volunteer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in early December, and it's quite a sight—a stark white bottlenose dolphin repeatedly loops its dorsal fin out of the water off the shore of Florida. 

The albino dolphin is only the 15th such animal to be spotted and reported to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration since 1962. Though some (like “Pinky") have been exalted by fans, others around the world have been hunted for their novelty.

Laura Geggel of LiveScience reports that the dolphin in the new video had probably sought out the shallow coastal waters to look for fish like mullet or sea trout when it was caught on film. One of Geggel’s sources, Blair Mase of NOAA, says that the dolphin appears to be a few years old and nearing adulthood. A spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute also told her that the dolphin has been sighted several times since the video was shot.

Albino animals lack melanin, which typically darkens skin, fur, scales and eyes. This causes them to appear lighter in color and often white. The Missouri Department of Conservation says there are at least 300 animals in North America that can exhibit albinism, including about 20 species of porpoises, dolphins and whales. It is a somewhat rare trait passed from parents to their offspring, and since the trait is recessive, it’s not always expressed.

The white squirrels of Marionville, Mo., seem to defy those odds, however. There, the population of albino squirrels has flourished, as residents feed them generously and the city has imposed a $1,000 fine for killing one.

About Amy Nordrum
Amy Nordrum

Amy Nordrum is a science writer based in New York City. She has contributed to Scientific American, the Atlantic, Popular Mechanics, IEEE Spectrum and Psychology Today.

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