A rare white killer whale was spotted off the coast of Southeast Alaska. Researchers spotted the whale, named Tl’uk, swimming along with a pod of orcs.
The name Tl’uk means ‘Moon’ in the language of the Coast Salish people. White killer whales are incredibly rare. There have only been eight recorded cases in history.
Researchers on an 80-foot charter boat spotted the pod of killer whales and were surprised when one was glowing.
A graduate student from the University of Alaska, Stephanie Hayes mentioned in a Press Release, “There was a collective gasp from everybody on the bow.”
Further adding, “There have only been about eight white killer whales ever recorded in the world.”
Captain Rogers has been captain of his ship for over 45 years. In all this time as captain, he said this was the first time he had seen a white killer whale.
Alaska Sea Adventures posted on Facebook, “TI’uk greeted us last week off Cape Bendel when we were on a charter with guests. Known by scientists as T046BIB.”
The post also added, “Spotting this whale was a thrill not only for our guests aboard the Northern Song but also for the Captain who has been cruising Alaska waters for over 45 years”. Rogers was lucky enough to get a second view of the white killer whale a few days later.
Furthermore, Hayes suggested that the white killer whale has a condition called leucism. She defined it as a lack of vibrancy in the whale’s pigmentation caused by mutation.
Moreover, Tl’uk is a two-year-old male killer whale. Often mothers will reject full grown calves, which means they have to leave. Researchers believe that this might put Tl’uk at a disadvantage due to his glowing appearance.
The whale has been spotted before by researchers in British Columbia. That was where Tl’uk got his name.