Wildlife

Pictures: Albino Animals Revealed

A white humpback calf made for a, well, whale of a surprise for one boater recently near Australia‘s Whitsunday Island.

“We were just drifting when I noticed the smaller whale in the pod was white. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I just grabbed my camera,” Wayne Fewings said in a statement issued by the government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

“Then the white calf approached my boat, seeming to want to check us out. I was just so amazed at seeing this animal. …”

The weeks-old calf, likely born in northern waters of the Great Barrier Reef (see regional map below) lacks melanin pigment in its skin, according to Mark Read, species-conservation manager for the Australian agency.


Map courtesy National Geographic’s “The World” iPad app

An animal that does not produce melanin, resulting in little or no color in the skin, hair, and eyes, is considered an albino.

“To speculate on the animal’s parents is difficult, but what we can say is that this calf is the offspring from two animals that were carrying the white [melanin-lacking] gene, resulting in this unique white calf,” he said in the statement.

(See another picture of an albino right whale calf taken in 2008.)

Read suspects there are about 10 to 15 white humpbacks in the region’s population of between 13,000 to 15,000 animals. Albinism occurs across nature, as well as in humans. There are albino toads, cows, gorillas, bats, alligators—even plants, including the redwood tree.

With such a striking lack of color, surviving in the wild is difficult for albino animals—for instance, albino alligators make an obvious target for predators, and most are eaten before they reach adulthood.

That’s part of the reason why albinos often end up in zoos around the world—and some are even considered valuable. In 2008, for instance, smugglers in Brazil nabbed seven albino alligators, at the time valued at about U.S. $9,700 apiece, according to the Associated Press.

Albinos are not to be confused with animals that have extremely rare genetic aberrations that make them white.

Take the spirit bear (also known as the Kermode bear), a white variant of the North American black bear that lives in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest and was featured in the August issue of National Geographic magazine. (Though, as the writer points out, the bear’s white fur is “more like a vanilla-colored carpet in need of a steam cleaning.”)

White tigers and lions, often seen in zoos, are also in this category. Because the propagation of white tigers in captivity requires inbreeding, their presence in zoos, parks, and theaters is controversial among animal-welfare groups, National Geographic News reported in 2009. (See a picture of a white tiger diving underwater in 2009.)

As for the white calf spotted near the Great Barrier Reef, Read told Agence France-Presse that Australia has no plans to name the rare animal.

“We’d be pretty comfortable for him or her just to simply remain anonymous,” Read said, “and just live out its life in relative peace and harmony.”

Read more National Geographic News stories about albino animals (and one that’s just whiter than most) :

Picture: Albino Pygmy Monkey Twins Born

Picture: Albino Alligator Makes Zoo Debut

Picture: Albino Baby Turtle

Picture: Rare White Giraffe Spotted in Africa

Picture: “Ugly” Albino Ratfish Captured

Christine Dell'Amore, environment writer/editor for National Geographic News, has reported from six continents, including Antarctica. She has also written for Smithsonian magazine and the Washington Post. Christine holds a masters degree in journalism with a specialty in environmental reporting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her book, South Pole, was published in 2012.
  • KD

    The “albino bull” from Texas? I’m rather certain it’s actually a Charolais bull, which is a breed of cattle characterized by its light colored coat and curls on the face, that is being raised with a herd of Black Angus cattle.

  • Rosie Collins

    It was really interesting to see these unusual animals but I am saddened by the idea of animals kept in capitivity, and especially for the poor alligator who can’t go out into the sunlight, i can’t imagine never being able to feel the sunshine on my body or being able to roam in nature when I want to.Also keeping and breeding these animals who can’t have any sort of normal life just for us to look at is not a good idea.

  • Spike

    Hypno-toad!

  • Spike

    HYPNO-TOAD!!!!

  • Adolfo

    Congratulations.! Very very nice yours pictures Miss.

  • thao

    some of these animals are leucistic, not albino, since their eyes have the normal color.

  • Matthew

    ALL HAIL THE HYPNO-TOAD!!!

  • Penny

    to KD – you obviously did not read the article under the “white bull” (as per caption) that said the bull was from the Charolais breed. It was never labelled as an Albino.

  • Shuva

    Really beutifull picture.

  • Patricia Froude

    Absolutely all beautiful, freak’s of nature, to veiw a peacock like this there is one at Avondale farm in the hunter . Every form of god’s creature’s are wonders, let alone the albino’s but a rare beauty to be seen. thank you.

  • SA

    hey, that is really cool!
    very interesting, thanks for sharing.

  • Molly

    There is an albino deer who lived on my parents’ land in PA. It was gorgeous, and I was able to see it a few times while I was visiting them and was able to snap a few pictures. It was beautiful!

  • Nailah Bateh

    Beautiful!Thanks for sharing, wish there were more!

  • Steven Johnnyson

    Cool stuff

  • chen

    it’s amazing

  • harmeet sigh

    pictures are awesome

  • m.p.e.

    I love the albino peacock. if you love peacocks, say i!
    I! I! I! I! I! I! I! !I! I!

  • Irina

    I had 2 black rabbits. The female had 7 black babies. And 1 albino!

  • Jessie Pantilgone

    the albino alligator is so cool..
    and in the Philippines “lolong” the biggest salt water croc. is cool too..

  • sham dande

    I am excited while watching ,
    It was only possible because of
    Nat Geo & it’s team’s
    UNTIRING CONSISTENT efforts
    Billions &billions Thanks

  • mp19

    Very interesting T.Y for sharing

  • Yesteeyear

    The white peacock is beautiful!

  • Rina

    OMG… Beautiful…..

  • Eugene Loven

    Please send this to my email address so I can share this story.
    I am a 63 year old man with albinism
    thank you.
    Great photos..

  • kylie

    our football team and track team calls me the albino girl…im not tho, i have red hair and green/orange eyes….but im SUPER WHITE! i love albino animals

  • loveth

    I was very happy to see the usually animal it is wonderful creature of God. but i want no the i can one if it is armful to human life.

    Thank Ur for the picture

  • kdener

    kool stufff doggg thats off the chain

  • Nydz

    What a wonderful creature..

  • mohamed

    good morning
    i like to receive all pictures of nature.

  • […] SEE PICTURES OF ALBINO ANIMALS CLICK HERE: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/10/06/weird-wild-pictures-albino-animals-revealed/ Advertisement Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed Simple […]

  • non of ur busines

    o.o

  • oriza rizza patricio dosabas

    =) hahaha

  • wild dolphin6

    these animals are amasing

  • mido

    halloooooooooooooooooo

  • Betty

    Beautiful and very interesting pictures!

  • BH

    You missed the Spirit Bison at Assinnaboin Zoo,
    Snowball and Blizzard.

  • Bethany Miller

    There are three ways for those animals to be changing
    from there natural color to white.One reason is there could be oil being flooded into the ocean,two tons of garbags or other toxens could be doumped into the ocean and the third reason would be that the animals are breding with other forms of animals like them selves just diferent for exsample a brown bear would bread cubs with a polar bear
    that is alot more an likely but it might happen in extreme casses.

  • Simon

    That albino toad looks familiar but I don’t know where I would hav- ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD

  • […] (See pictures of albino animals.) […]

  • […] • To see more photos of unusual white animals, click here. […]

  • […] One way to find out would be to see if Iceberg’s eyes are pink and unpigmented—a sure sign of albinism, Hoyt said. (See pictures of albino animals.) […]

  • Blixiris

    The peacock is a beautiful shade!
    Though the albino animals probably have a more difficult time hiding from predators, they look wonderful.

  • […] Another condition that creates white coloration in animals is albinism, which occurs when an animal produces no melanin at all throughout its entire body. (See pictures of albino animals.) […]

  • blaaa

    mutations are cool!

  • someone

    this is bad if they have to live in the wild because the white color makes it easier to get seen by predators and the color it self is a sign of weakness so more predators will attack it. It is usually born really weak too.

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