Shortly before Halloween, a rare, all-white dolphin named “Casper” was spotted frequently appearing in Monterey Bay. But seeing this mysterious creature is very unusual, especially on the eve of Halloween.
According to Nancy Black, a marine biologist with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, the dolphin often visits the region and delights residents with its unusual appearance. “You can see him at any time of the year; sometimes, he stays for months with his family and other Risso’s dolphins,” Black said.
Monterey Bay Whale Watch staff have spotted Casper twice during their expeditions in the past week. Black and other scientists believe the dolphin is about nine years old, which is still young, as Risso’s dolphins can live up to thirty-five years. Casper often travels with his mother and has been seen as far north as Davenport with packs of hundreds or even thousands of other dolphins.
The dolphin, white as snow, was first spotted in Monterey Bay in 2015, according to local naturalists and biologists who lead whale-watching tours in the area. Monterey Bay Whale Watch photographer Daniel Bianchetta first spotted Casper in 2015 and gave the dolphin a name. This time, Casper struck the hearts of many on the bay shore.
The animals appear white instead of their usual color either because of ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ, an anomaly ᴄᴏɴɢᴇɴɪᴛᴀʟ, consisting of a complete or partial lack of melanin pigmentation, or ʟᴇᴜᴄɪsᴍ, ɢᴇɴᴇᴛɪᴄ feature, recessive in most cases, according to Project Dolphin. Black thinks Casper is ʟᴇᴜᴄɪsᴛɪᴄ because, she says, he has no red eyes, one of the traits that define ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ.
This species usually only lives for a short time. Because it has such a conspicuous white skin color, ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀ is easy to recognize. They live in the sea depths off the coast to be able to dive to depths of at least a thousand feet and feed on squid. Monterey Bay has one of the deepest underwater canyons on the West Coast. Large dolphins can reach thirteen feet in length and weigh 1,100 pounds.