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Albino Animals
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PostPosted: 13-11-2007 07:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Japan might kill world's only white whale
By Nick Squires in Sydney
Last Updated: 3:01pm GMT 12/11/2007

Australians fear that the world's only known white humpback whale could be slaughtered as Japan's whaling fleet prepares to embark on its annual hunt in the Southern Ocean.

The unique male whale, named Migaloo - an Aboriginal word for "white fella" - has become a celebrity in Australia since being spotted for the first time in 1991.

Each year Migaloo - along with thousands of other humpbacks - migrates from the icy seas of Antarctica to the warm shallows of the South Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef.

A few months later the whales, the females leading their newly-born calves, return to Antarctica.

The arrival of 45ft-long Migaloo - believed to be the only completely white humpback in the world - is keenly anticipated by whale watchers along Australia's east coast.

He has been hailed as modern day Moby Dick, even though the creature in Herman Melville's 1851 classic was a sperm whale.

Conservationists fear that Migaloo is so accustomed to whale watching and fishing boats, that he will be easy pickings for Japanese hunters.

With the southern hemisphere summer approaching, the Japanese whaling fleet is preparing to leave port within days. It refuses to say exactly when.

It has declared that for the first time it will kill 50 humpbacks, as well as 50 fin whales and hundreds of minke whales.

The Japanese argue that after decades of hunting fin and humpback whales have recovered to sufficient levels that they can now withstand being harpooned again.

The Fisheries Agency in Tokyo refused to rule out killing Migaloo today, with officials offering a blunt "no comment" to media inquiries.

Instead the agency called on Australia and New Zealand to ensure that the Japanese fleet would be protected from anti-whaling ships operated by a militant environmental group, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Last year Sea Shepherd threatened to ram the Japanese fleet with a ship fitted with a bulldozer-type blade. The group has been branded environmental terrorists by Tokyo.

"Those two countries maintain the same position as Japan does against the violent action of terrorists," spokesman Hideki Moronuki told ABC Radio.

"[We] need support from those two countries in order to secure the safety of our crews and (our ships)."

But the captain of Sea Shepherd's two vessels, Paul Watson, said he had the law on his side because whale hunting was illegal.

"They're targeting endangered species in a whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on whaling.

"If Japan reacts violently to us, causes any injury at all to any of our people, that will backlash very severely on Japan because Japan is the criminal nation here," he said.

Japan uses a loophole in International Whaling Commission laws to hunt around 1,000 whales each year in the Southern Hemisphere, ostensibly for the purposes of scientific research.

People who have encountered Migaloo on his epic journey of migration describe the sight as a once in a lifetime experience.

"He turned the blue water around him jade-green for two or three metres," one awe-struck Australian whale-watch operator said of a sighting two years ago.

Scientists are uncertain whether Migaloo is a true albino, or simply has white pigmentation.

In a sign of how healthy the population of humpbacks has become, a female and her calf paid a short visit to Sydney Harbour today.

The pair was noticed entering the harbour from the sea by passengers on a passing ferry and spent about three hours in sheltered waters before continuing their journey south.
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PostPosted: 20-12-2007 08:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Birdwatcher spots rare white-breasted robin

An extremely rare white-breasted robin has been spotted in a garden in Dorset. The bird has a condition called leucism, which involves a lack of red pigment. This makes its breast white and its brown colours slightly lighter than usual. Tony Whitehead from the RSPB said, "From the back it looks normal but the front on you can see the white goes right under its breast. It is a very rare thing. I have been birdwatching for 30 years and I have never seen one of these before. Albinism is genetic so maybe one of this bird's grandparents or great grandparents showed some form of albinism."
Martin Hodgson,,2229964,00.html

How very unseasonal!
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PostPosted: 20-12-2007 22:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found the WMN had an article on this Robin, with a photo, but it doesn't seem to be online.

But this Mail story and photo is online:

Robins started to feature on Christmas cards in Victorian times to represent the red tunics worn by the postmen who delivered them

Which is seasonal! Wink
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PostPosted: 05-01-2008 21:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brazil's rare alligators 'stolen'
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Police in Brazil are investigating the disappearance of seven rare albino alligators from a university zoo in the western state of Mato Grosso.
One theory is that they may have been stolen to be sold abroad.

The animals, said by officials to be worth around $10,000 (£5,070) each, have no skin pigment and their eyes are a distinctive pink.

The seven alligators disappeared from the zoo at the Federal University in Mato Grosso, Brazil's TV Globo reported.

They were last seen when they were fed on New Year's Eve, but they were missing when a zoo official went to feed them again on Wednesday morning.

Police say there was no sign of a break-in at the zoo which contains more than 800 animals spread across 11 hectares (27 acres) hectares of parkland.

The alligators were said to be young with an average age of around two years, and only one albino alligator is now left at the zoo.

Police say the rarity of the alligator will make the investigation difficult as the people involved in the illegal trading of such rare species are very secretive.

The apparent theft also highlights a wider problem.

Animal rights activists say Brazil accounts for 10% of the world's illegal trade in animals, mainly parrots and other birds, which are often sold in Europe and the United States.
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PostPosted: 09-01-2008 07:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rare albino penguin sighting in Antarctica
Last Updated: 2:09am GMT 09/01/2008

He doesn't so much stand out from his brothers as get lost in the snow.

This is an albino Adelie penguin - an extremely rare sight.

Very few of the pure-white birds survive for long because they tend to be picked on by other penguins.

This one was captured on camera by photographer Brett Jarrett at Cape Denison, a rocky point at the head of Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica.

The Cape - officially the windiest place at sea level with daily average wind speeds in excess of 60mph and gusts of more than 185mph - was the base for the Australian explorer Douglas Mawson on his Antarctic expedition from 1911 to 1914.

The Mawson's Huts Foundation is raising funds to preserve Baltic pine and Oregon huts at the Cape which were used by the expedition team.
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PostPosted: 13-01-2008 14:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marionville is only a day-trip away from me and I've been trying to get down their on one of my weekends.

White Squirrel Wars

Olney, IL; Marionville, MO; Kenton, TN; Brevard, NC; Exeter, ON

Not one, but five towns use albino squirrels as their claims to fame, and none is particularly happy about the others. Kenton, Tennessee, accommodates about 200 of the furry rodents. Residents insist that the squirrels "have been here the longest" and claim they were left by a "Gypsy caravan" in 1869. Is Kenton, we asked, where the other towns got their white squirrels? "Well, they had to come from somewhere."

Olney, Illinois, is the loudest booster of all albino squirrel towns, titling itself Home of the White Squirrels. It scoffs at the other towns' albinos. "Most of theirs have dark eyes," they told us. The town conducts and promotes an annual white squirrel count, when locals scour the landscape inch by inch to determine population or migration trends.

Laws on the Olney books give the squirrels right-of-way on every street; residents are fined if they try leave town with one. Local police patches bear an outline of a bushy-tailed albino. Big Squirrel is watching you.

Olney has overhyped themselves, according to a Marionville, Missouri, spokesperson, also publicized as Home of the White Squirrels. "They've got our backs up," Marionville told us, an opinion they've held ever since Olney appeared making preemptive superiority claims on the Today Show in 1965. Marionville believes the squirrels arrived in town "just after the Civil War" and that they escaped from a traveling circus. "The squirrels in Olney were kidnapped from Marionville," they explain.

Marionville claims to possess the largest, oldest colony of white squirrels in the world, around 300 to 600 here since at least 1854. The local Lions Club actively encourages the squirrels, building little wooden dwellings and planting nut-bearing trees. Marionville even contains a White Squirrel Bed and Breakfast, where visiting humans can stay.

Common gray squirrels found in Marionville are trapped and kicked out.

As "Home of the White Squirrel," Brevard, North Carolina, also appreciates their white squirrels, although they have dark eyes and are not albino. There has also been some interbreeding between the white and grays [According to tipster Dan Hay, "causing some to have gray caps and sometimes gray strip down back."].

Brevard College's "White Squirrel Research Institute" has charted the geographic distribution of pale critters in their region. Brevard's white squirrels are legally "protected." The town holds a White Squirrel Festival around Memorial Day Weekend.

The northernmost white squirrel enclave is over the border in Canada. The town of Exeter, Ontario appears bent on total White Squirrel Supremacy, celebrating an annual White Squirrel Festival and cheerily publicizing their pale pals. A 1986 naming contest dubbed the mascot "White Wonder." There's even a song (watch the music video).

But the Exeter squirrels aren't albinos -- their eyes are dark.

These communities revere their mascots, to the point of enacting stiff fines if humans should intentionally harm or even annoy a white squirrel.

Still, calamities do happen, whether it is a fall from a power line or an inattentive SUV driver on a cell phone (wait...that's all of them). Road crews quickly spirit away remains, shielding townsfolk and visitors from unpleasant views.

Marionville had come up with the best solution, preserving its most intact critters on ice and then shipping them to the Funeral Home with Perky Animal Dioramas, as we discovered during a visit.

Then there are ... Black Squirrel Squabbles.
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PostPosted: 02-05-2008 08:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rare albino ray is caught in the Solent

Trawlermen have landed an albino ray thought to be the first found in British waters.

The 80cm-long fish was caught in the Solent and is now being cared for at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth.

Experts are surprised that the ray survived so long without camouflage to hide from predators.

They have nicknamed him Gamma Ray because the lack of markings mean it is difficult to determine accurately which species he is. Cool

Robbie Robinson, the aquarium's curator, said: “Gamma Ray would have stuck out like a sore thumb on the sea bed.”
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PostPosted: 02-05-2008 10:02    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gamma Ray:

More info, and pictures, here:
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PostPosted: 20-05-2008 07:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pictured: The rare albino tadpoles found in garden pond that have astonished scientists
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:54 PM on 19th May 2008

Experts on amphibians have been caught on the hop by a rare batch of albino tadpoles living in a garden pond.

Tiny pale globules of frog spawn and tadpoles are now under observation at a secret and closely guarded address in Carmarthenshire, west Wales.

Experts from Froglife were called in after at least four separate blobs of albino spawn were found deposited in the pond.

They believe the "highly unusual" discovery could point to a significant frog population carrying the rare recessive gene for albinism.

No adult albino frogs have so far been discovered but their frog spawn and tadpoles have the characteristic pink eyes and off-white skin colour.

"Albino individuals of adult frogs, toads and newts have been reported in the past, though sightings are considered very rare," a spokesman said.

"Cases of multiple albinistic individuals in a breeding population are even rarer."

The sighting was reported to Froglife's Wildlife Information Service - a public advice service encouraging people to get involved with amphibian and reptile conservation.

Details of the unusual find, and a YouTube link to a short video of the albino frog spawn and tadpoles, appear on the group's website.

"This is certainly one of the stranger inquiries we've had recently," said Lucy Benyon, Froglife's wildlife information officer.

"What's unusual about this is that the batches of white tadpoles suggest that a number of adults that carry genes for albinism possibly exist in the area, not just one."

"Usually though albino amphibians fail to live to a breeding age - their white colour makes them a blindingly conspicuous beacon for the various animals that depend on frogs for food." she added.

She said that further research into the multiple cases of albino tadpoles will be looked into over coming months.
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PostPosted: 25-07-2008 20:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

New white whale spotted
By Alison Feeney-Hart
BBC News, Sydney

A new white humpback has been sighted off Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia.

The newcomer, which was filmed by a television news helicopter, has excited marine scientists who think it may be related to Migaloo - to date, the only known all-white humpback whale.

Migaloo is somewhat of a celebrity down under. Why? "Because as far as we know, he is globally unique," said Professor Peter Harrison from the Whale Research Centre, Southern Cross University.

It now seems that Migaloo, (whose Aboriginal name means "white fellow") might have competition.

Although predominantly white, the new whale does have some black markings near its head and tail. So who is the newcomer?

A white calf was spotted with a normal humpback mother in Byron Bay two years ago. Experts say the new whale could be the offspring of Migaloo but further tests need to be carried out.

A record number of humpbacks have been spotted off the Australian coast this year on their annual migration north to their breeding grounds.

One thing scientists do agree on is that this second white whale has never been seen in these waters before.
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PostPosted: 20-03-2009 22:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pink elephant is caught on camera
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

A pink baby elephant has been caught on camera in Botswana.

A wildlife cameraman took pictures of the calf when he spotted it among a herd of about 80 elephants in the Okavango Delta.

Experts believe it is probably an albino, which is an extremely rare phenomenon in African elephants.

They are unsure of its chances of long-term survival - the blazing African sunlight may cause blindness and skin problems for the calf.

Mike Holding, who spotted the baby while filming for a BBC wildlife programme, said: "We only saw it for a couple of minutes as the herd crossed the river.

"This was a really exciting moment for everyone in camp. We knew it was a rare sighting - no-one could believe their eyes."

Albino elephants are not usually white, but instead they have more of a reddish-brown or pink hue.

While albinism is thought to be fairly common in Asian elephants, it is much less common in the larger African species.

Ecologist Dr Mike Chase, who runs conservation charity Elephants Without Borders, said: "I have only come across three references to albino calves, which have occurred in Kruger National Park in South Africa.

"This is probably the first documented sighting of an albino elephant in northern Botswana.

"We have been studying elephants in the region for nearly 10 years now, and this is the first documented evidence of an albino calf that I have come across."

He said that the condition might make it difficult for the calf to survive into adulthood.

"What happens to these young albino calves remains a mystery," said Dr Chase.

"Surviving this very rare phenomenon is very difficult in the harsh African bush. The glaring sun may cause blindness and skin problems."

However, he told BBC News that there might be a ray of hope for the pink calf as it already seemed to be learning to adapt to its condition.

Dr Chase explained: "Because this elephant calf was sighted in the Okavango Delta, he may have a greater chance of survival. He can seek refuge under the large trees and cake himself in a thick mud, which will protect him from the Sun.

"Already the two-to-three-month-old calf seems to be walking in the shade of its mother.

"This behaviour suggests it is aware of its susceptibility to the harsh African sun, and adapted a unique behaviour to improve its chances of survival."

He added: "I have learned that elephants are highly adaptable, intelligent and masters of survival."
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PostPosted: 18-08-2009 09:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rare albino swallow sends twitchers wild with oh-so-brief appearance
By Chris Brooke
Last updated at 10:18 AM on 17th August 2009

One swallow doesn't make a summer, but this chap would probably do well in the winter.

While his pure white plumage might mark the albino out to predators against blue skies, he'd surely be nicely camouflaged in the snow.

There's said to be a one-in-18,000 chance of albinism affecting a bird, making this swallow a rare spot.

Twitcher Steve Copsey, who pictured it in Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, said he stood out 'like an angel' among a flock of his regular companions.

An albino usually has weak eyesight and brittle wing and tail feathers, which may reduce its ability to fly. They are also often bullied by their own species. However, this chap mixed happily with the others.

Swallows arrive in Britain in spring and migrate 6,000 miles back to southern Africa in September or October. But if this one didn't mind the cold and fancied hanging about for a Scottish winter, he'd fit in splendidly.

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PostPosted: 22-03-2010 10:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

The rare Albino wallaby putting rivals in the shade at wildlife park
Home Staff

A rare albino wallaby has been born at a British wildlife park — despite the owners having no adults with the skin-altering condition.

The tiny joey is still tucked away in its mother Erin’s pouch but will start to venture out on its own when it reaches six months old.

Staff at Seaview Wildlife Encounter say the joey is a ’genetic throwback’ because albinism is most commonly passed from parents to their offspring.

And they hope the young marsupial will prove a huge attraction when the park, which is near Seaview, in the Isle of Wight, re-opens after the winter in ten days’ time.

The general manager of Seaview Wildlife Encounter, Jules Brittan, said: “This is so exciting for us.

“When our last adult male albino died about 18 months ago we thought that was the end of albino wallabies here.

“But then this little one came along. It must be some sort of genetic throwback.

“We haven’t been able to determine whether the joey is male or female yet because it is still in its mother’s pouch.

“We can only see its little head and front paws when it decides to have a look outside.”

In the wild, albino joeys have a very slim chance of survival with only one in 10,000 making it as far as adulthood.

This is because their unusual white colour leaves them unable to conceal themselves from predators, such as dingos and foxes.

Their lack of skin pigmentation also leaves them vulnerable to the impact of the sun in their natural habitat of Australia.

Ms Brittan added: “Our staff actually apply sun block to their ears, nose and tail to protect them from the sun.

“In captivity we can manage their condition but in the wild they are very vulnerable and have a struggle to survive.

“It’s just so exciting — this little one is a real wonder of nature.”

Albinism is an inherited condition which occurs as a result of gene mutations that affect the production of pigmentation.

True albino animals lack melanin and are white with no markings and have unpigmented pink eyes.

Wallabies are members of the kangaroo family and can live up to about nine years in the wild.

They are smaller than their cousins, and can weigh up to 24kg.
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PostPosted: 29-03-2010 09:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

The white bird that's a bit of a black sheep: Twitcher snaps an ALBINO blackbird
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:49 AM on 28th March 2010

A householder snapped a very unusual visitor to her garden - a white blackbird.
Fiona Crofts spotted the rare albino bird sitting on the fence in her garden in Deeping, near Peterborough.
Avid bird watcher Fiona said in six years of 'twitching' it was the first time she had ever seen anything like it.
Fiona, 26, said: 'At first I thought it was a dove, so I ran to put my glasses on, but it wasn't until I got a closer look I realised it was actually a blackbird.

'I couldn't believe it, I was quite shocked I've never seen a completely white blackbird before, that's for sure.'

Fiona watched and took photos of the bird for around five minutes before it flew away.
She said it must have been a fleeting visit, as she has not seen her feathered friend since.

Erica Howe, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said she was certain the bird was an albino blackbird, which are very rare in the wild.
But she said, being pale an interesting meant the bird did not have an easy time surviving in the wild.
She said: 'The problem albino blackbirds have is that they stand out quite a lot.
'This means they are vulnerable to predators such as cats, foxes and larger birds of prey and are easily targeted.
'Albinism occurs in more than 160 species of birds in Britain and tends to be genetic passed on from parents.

'Nearly a third of albino birds in Britain are thrushes and blackbirds, but they are very rare.
'There are different levels of albinism in blackbirds. Some are completely white, while others have only a few white patches or feathers.'

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PostPosted: 29-03-2010 14:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yet another misuse of the word "twitcher" by lazy journalists. Why is it so hard for them to get the distinction between twitchers and birdwatchers?
Disgruntled birdwatcher (not a twitcher)
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