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Stuff that matters

A wildlife photographer captured an amazing spectacle when a rare white Risso’s dolphin flipped out of the water.

Jay Spring was enjoying a Californian boat tour last month when he found himself lucky to be facing the right way as the distinctive creature breached.

“On 22 June, I was out on a whale watching boat with Captain Dave’s Whale Watching out of Dana Point, when we came across a pod of about 30 to 40 Risso’s dolphins just cruising around the boat,” said Spring.

“This is unusual as Risso’s dolphins are not known to be boat friendly like other dolphin species. Thunderstorms had just moved through the area when suddenly a rare, almost all white individual started breaching.”

“I could not believe what I was seeing and luckily I was looking the right way at the right time and was able to get some pictures of him,” he said.

As it turns out the whale watchers have a name for this individual, “Blanco”. He has leucism, a condition separate from Albinism, that results in a irregular distribution of melanin pigments. Spring was told there are no existing photographs of Blanco, and that his are the first ones on the internet.

“I have been photographing wildlife since 2016 as a retirement hobby. I primarily photography birds but in the past year have gotten into whales and dolphins.

“I am a technical person by nature and never thought I would enjoy photography so much.”

Risso’s dolphins usually have a distinctive grey body which over time becomes covered in scars. They are named after Antoine Risso, whose study of the animal formed the basis of the recognized description by Georges Cuvier in 1812.

Leucism is found in other animal species, and recently a sperm whale with leucism, literally Moby Dick, was seen in Jamaica.