MEXICO (REUTERS) - A rare, albino gray whale has been spotted off Mexico's Pacific coast.
Marine biologists from the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) captured footage of the magnificent, white mammal swimming with her normal-coloured calf during an annual census off the coast of Baja California.
The bright white whale, which actually belongs to the gray whale species, or Eschrichtius robustus, has been given the nickname Gallon of Milk.
Gallon of Milk was first spotted during the 2008 - 2009 season as a juvenile with characteristics of albinism, hence the name.
The whale and her calf were sighted in the area known as Isla Alambre, in la Laguna Ojo de Liebre.
Albinism is a genetic disorder caused by mutations in different genes, resulting in a reduction or complete absence of the pigment melanin.
This condition has been recorded in different mammals, birds and reptiles, both in wildlife and in captivity. However, there are few documented records of albino marine mammals.
Researchers have been conducting biological monitoring of the Biosphere Reserve El Vizcaino for 20 years. They have recorded the annual migration of gray whales off the coast of the Mexican Pacific during mating and reproduction season.
During the seventh census carried out this season, 2,211 specimens of gray whales were seen in the Ojo de Liebre lagoon in the Biosphere Reserve El Vizcaino. Of these, 1,004 correspond to calves born in Mexico.
The monitoring activities carried out by CONANP have documented the successful recovery of gray whale populations, ensuring the survival of this species for future generations.