Spotting an orca in its natural habitat is a beautiful sight that few get to experience, but seeing a white orca, a unique specimen, among an entire pod, is even rarer.
But on Monday, April 13, Scott Griffin and his family got to see just that when a pod of orcas, including a pale grey one, visited Case Inlet near his home in Allyn, Washington.
To get a better view, he flew his drone out and caught the most striking footage of the unique pale mammal swimming with its fellow orcas. Thanks to its coloring, the animal was very visible underwater.
The animal is a young male born in 2018 whose name is Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word meaning “bright moon,” explains the Orca Network’s Howard Garrett who knows the animal well.
Garrett photographed the whale recently too and told Orca Network, “He stands right out. I don’t know that there is anything different about him or his family. He seems to be the right size for his age, and traveling with them, perfectly normal behavior. But he sure glows really bright.”
Garrett saw the whale on April 7 at Holmes Harbor on Whidbey Island, though the whale family is rarely spotted in local waters. Usually, they spend their time north of the San Juan Islands.
“It is great to see that guy, just amazing,” said Garrett. “There is a certain mystical quality.”
The orca is classified as a gray transient whale, and he is only the second whale of his kind to be spotted in the Salish Sea.