Mexico's National Protected Natural Areas Commission, or Conanp, has reported the sighting of an albino whale in waters of the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve that was last spotted by Mexican authorities more than five years ago when it was still a calf.
During the annual whale census taken by Conanp in that northwestern area of the country, the presence in the pod of the female gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) dubbed 'Gallon of Milk' was observed, the commission reported on its Web site.
According to Conanp, "this specimen was observed for the first time during the 2008-2009 season as a whale calf with the albino characteristics for which it was named."
"In the recent sighting, this time in the area known as Alambre Island in the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Gallon of Milk was accompanied by a calf that was completely gray, which must mean she has become a mother for the first time," the bulletin posted on the Internet says.
The commission recalls that "albinism is a genetic disorder caused by gene mutation, which produces a reduction or total absence of the melanin pigment."
"This condition has been found in different taxonomic groups including mammals, birds and reptiles, both in the wild and in captivity," but "very few albino marine mammals have ever been found," it says.
The discovery resulted from the "biological monitoring" that personnel of the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve have carried out over the past 20 years in order to "document the annual migration of the gray whale to Mexico's Pacific coast where they mate and reproduce."
During the census, the seventh carried out to date, 2,211 specimens of the gray whale were counted in the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon of that reserve.
Of the total, 1,004 were whale calves born in Mexico, according to Conanp.