The white whale of Alaska



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The white whale of Alaska

A rare and wonderful specimen of white orca was spotted in Alaska. It is a two-year-old male that scientists have decided to call Tl'uk (Moon). Orca was spotted by Dr. Stephanie Hayes, a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks specializing in marine animals.

The group of cetaceans was spotted and filmed off the coast of Kake village, and when the baby emerged it thrilled the whole crew. Dr. Hayes said: "In the world only about eight white killer whales have been documented, seeing one in the south-east was an incredible phenomenon."

White orca was not alone, but it swamwith its family group composed of 3 or 4 other adult specimens, led by a female. Tl'uk does not belong to a different species from that of the classic black and white orca. It is a specimen affected by leucism, a genetic condition in which the skin, fur or plumage of animals is white, due to the absence of an enzyme tyrosinase linked to the production of melanin, the pigment that gives the color.

It is a different condition from albinism, which also determines the characteristic pink coloring of the eyes due to the absence of pigment in the iris.

Meanwhile we told you some days ago how birds are at risk of starvation due to climate change.

A new study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and Cornell University has made a disturbing discovery, based on a set of data collected over 30 years. According to research, birds always breed earlier and this is not good news.

The study also highlighted the heavy consequences on the bird's fitness but may also provide clues to an as-yet-unsolved mystery: aerial insectivorous birds, such as swallows, swifts and flycatchers are declining faster than other groups across much of North America and of Europe.

In fact, due to the anticipation of the arrival of spring, they cannot find the insects they eat and whose activity is determined by the weathe. The study has discovered the serious consequences for these animals that unknowingly reproduce earlier to "synchronize" with the early beginning of spring.

If the climate changes, animals try to keep up but don't always succeed and when they do this can be harmful. For example, chicks that hatch earlier face an increased risk of bad weather, food shortages, and early mortality.

Surviving on a warming planet may be a matter of timing, but simply moving and changing life cycle stages to match the pace of climate change has hidden dangers for some animals, including birds. In recent years, studies have raised concerns about whether or not species may adapt to climate change.

The new study found that early mating and consequently premature birth can expose animals to a greater risk of exposure to adverse weather events that tend to occur more frequently at the beginning of the year.