A rare white Risso’s dolphin was recently spotted in California, and lucky wildlife photographer Jay Spring was able to capture some amazing photos of the spectacle. Spring was on a whale watching boat tour with Captain Dave’s Whale Watching out of Dana Point when they came across a pod of about 30 to 40 Risso’s dolphins.
According to Spring, this is unusual as Risso’s dolphins are not known to be boat-friendly like other dolphin species.
It was just after thunderstorms had moved through the area when the rare, almost all white individual started breaching. Spring was in the right place at the right time to capture some stunning photos of the dolphin, which has been given the nickname “Blanco” by the whale watching community.
Blanco has a condition called leucism, which is separate from albinism and results in an irregular distribution of melanin pigments. This condition is found in other animal species as well.
The photos Spring took of Blanco are the first ones of the rare white Risso’s dolphin to appear on the internet.
Risso’s dolphins typically have a distinctive grey body that becomes covered in scars over time. They were named after Antoine Risso, whose study of the animal formed the basis of the recognized description by Georges Cuvier in 1812.
For Spring, photographing wildlife is a retirement hobby that he has been doing since 2016. While he primarily photographs birds, he has recently gotten into whales and dolphins. “I am a technical person by nature and never thought I would enjoy photography so much,” he said.
This rare sighting of Blanco is a reminder of the diversity and beauty of the natural world. While Risso’s dolphins are not often seen up close, they are an important part of the marine ecosystem and should be appreciated and protected.