Two white orcas spotted off Japan

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Two white orcas spotted off Japan

Off the coast of Japan's northern island, Hokkaido, two incalculable white killer whales have been sighted, a truly rare occurrence. Killer whales were spotted on a July 24 whale watching tour in the Kunashirskiy Strait. The tour company who organize these observation tours, say it is the first time that you see the younger one.

The white of their color is due to leucism, a genetic peculiarity due to a gene, recessive in most cases, which gives a white color to the fur or plumage of animals that normally have a different colored coat. Whether it occurs partially or totally, leucism is a form of incomplete albinism; in fact the eyes maintain normal pigmentation, unlike the iris of individuals who show ocular albinism.

Leucism is caused by the absence of tyrosinase, an enzyme necessary for the synthesis of melanin. Leucistic animals are not overly photosensitive, like albinos. Indeed, it seems that they are slightly more resistant to heat than normal individuals, because the white color, having the maximum albedo, would allow the highest reflection of incident radiation, consequently reducing thermal absorption.

Greece: endangered monk seal killed with a harpoon

On the Greek island of Alonissos, a monk seal named Kostis was killed by a harpoon shot. locals and environmentalists broke out in revolt. The island, in the Aegean Sea, is one of the most important marine reserves in Europe, but there are areas where fishing is allowed for amateur fishermen.

According to the media, a mobilization is underway to try to find the person responsible for the death of the animal. Greek organization MOm, on Facebook wrote: "Unfortunately, once again it has been shown that human wickedness and stupidity have no limits!

We have been informed that the young monk seal Kostis, who in recent months had become the mascot of Alonissos, is was deliberately killed. The seal was killed at point blank range with a spear gun. This news was greeted with great sorrow, not only by the members of the NGO, who cared for Kostis for several months, but also by all residents and visitors of Alonissos." The seal was found in 2018 by residents of the island of Folegandros, very weakened following the passage of a hurricane.