The scientists remain unsure of the reason for the orcas' distinctive coloring, including that of Iceberg. True albinism is a genetic disorder that leaves the skin without pigmentation.
"Russian waters appear to be the world's number one area for white killer whales who may be leucistic (patchy white pigmentation) or true albinos," Russian Orcas noted on Facebook. "It's a dubious honor. As reported in our paper, albinism probably indicates inbreeding of small populations."
"Albinos or leucistic .. we're not sure," Hoyt wrote on social media.
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An especially close-up look at the alabaster animals could help.
"With regard to Iceberg's pod, we have no genetic data," Hoyt wrote on whales.org after the 2012 sighting, "but we are hoping to meet them again in summer 2012 and learn more about the phenomenon of white whales, why they occur, what it means and whether Iceberg is a true albino -- perhaps we can catch a glimpse of a pink eye -- or 'just' one of the most beautiful orcas anyone has ever seen."
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