A whale dubbed ‘Gallon of Milk’ is making headlines again after Mexico’s famous albino was recently spotted off the coast of Baja California. The female gray whale was first discovered by Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) in 2009, according to FOX News.
Gallon of Milk was found recently alongside of her calf, which is not albino. The CONANP was in the midst of an annual gray whale census survey when they managed to spot the mammal.
Albinism is caused by a lack of melanin production that results in little or no color (pigment) in the skin. While it is common in many mammals, there are few documented reports of albinism in whales.
In July 2015, researchers were pleasantly surprised to spot a rare white humpback whale in Cook Strait, New Zealand. The whale is thought to be Migaloo, a white humpback usually seen off the coast of eastern Australia. Migaloo is one of four known white humpback whales in the world. Other albino animals have been discovered across the globe.
Just last month, a resident of Sarnia, Ontario captured footage of an albino raccoon rummaging around in a rain storm.
In January of this year, a rare white giraffe was spotted in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. Animal experts say the young female is leucistic, i.e., its body surface cells aren’t capable of making pigment, and not albino.
The key difference is the color of the animal’s eyes. The whale dubbed Gallon of Milk tends to have red or pink eyes while leucistic animals do not.
Likewise, in 2012, researchers on a National Geographic-led expedition came across a ‘blonde’ penguin in Antarctica. Experts say it has isabellinism — a rare genetic mutation that dilutes the pigment in the penguin’s feathers, turning them blonde.