A 'Rare White Orca' Was Spotted Off BC's Coast & It Came A Long Way (PHOTOS)

It's nickname is Frosty!

Rare white orca calf "Frosty" near Telegraph Cove, B.C.
Associate Editor, Vancouver

Rare white orca calf "Frosty" near Telegraph Cove, B.C.

Spotting an orca whale in B.C. waters isn't uncommon. But, according to The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWAA), seeing one that appears to be nearly completely white certainly is.

One of these "rare" white orcas was spotted off the coast of Vancouver Island on Wednesday. The man who saw it, Scott Turton — a whale-watching captain in the area — was able to capture photos of the unique animal who was with its mother.

The whale watchers in B.C. got in contact with some researchers in the U.S who confirmed the white orca, nicknamed "Frosty," was last seen off the coast of California in late June.

That means that since then, Frosty and its mother had travelled more than 2,500 kilometres.

The PWAA said that Frosty was first spotted three years ago as a newborn in August 2019 in the waters of Monterey Bay, California.

Frosty surfaces in B.C. waters.Frosty surfaces in B.C. waters. Scott Turton | Prince of Whales

Frosty's mother has been on the radar of the California Killer Whale Project for a while, even being recorded in Alert Bay, B.C. back in 2014. Wednesday's sighting marked the first time Frosty had been seen in B.C. waters.

According to the PWAA, naturalists don't know exactly why Frosty is white. Some think it's because of a condition called Chédiak–Higashi syndrome, which is a pigment condition that affects humans too.

Frosty surfaces in B.C. waters.Frosty surfaces in B.C. waters.Scott Turton | Prince of Whales

Frosty is not the first orca seen in B.C. to have the distinguishing feature. A young whale by the name of Tl'uk was documented in B.C. waters but hasn't been seen since April of 2021, the PWAA said. The association also mentioned an orca named Chimo that was kept at Seaworld back in the 1970s was also white.

Greg Bowman
Associate Editor, Vancouver