Off the coast of Southeast Alaska, a rare white killer whale was sighted. The whale, called Tl’uk, was discovered swimming among a pod of orcs by researchers.
In Coast Salish language, the name Tl’uk translates to “Moon.” Killer whales that are white are extremely unusual. Only eight occurrences have been documented in history.
The pod of killer whales was observed by researchers on an 80-foot charter boat, who were astonished when one of them started glowing.
Stephanie Hayes, a graduate student at the University of Alaska, said in a press release, “Everyone on the bow gave a collective gasp.”
“Only approximately eight white killer whales have ever been recorded in the world,” he continues.
Captain Rogers has been at the helm of his vessel for more than 45 years. He said that this was the first time he had seen a white killer whale in all of his years as captain.
Alaska Sea Adventures posted on Facebook, “TI’uk greeted us last week off Cape Bendel when we were on a charter with guests. Known by scientists as T046BIB.”
“Seeing this whale was a delight not just for our passengers aboard the Northern Song, but also for the Captain, who has been sailing Alaska waters for almost 45 years,” the post said. Rogers was fortunate enough to see the white killer whale again a few days later.
Hayes also claimed that the white killer whale suffers from a disease known as leucism. It’s a loss of brightness in the whale’s coloring caused by mutation, according to her.
Moreover, Tl’uk is a two-year-old male killer whale. Often mothers will reject full grown calves, which means they have to leave. Researchers believe that this might put Tl’uk at a disadvantage due to his glowing appearance.
Researchers in British Columbia have previously seen the whale. Tl’uk received his name from this.