Members of Monterey Bay Whale Watch were thrilled to catch a rare glimpse of a white dolphin swimming in the bay Jan. 25.
The observers believe the juvenile Risso's dolphin is either albino or has leucism, another genetic mutation which prevents melanin and other pigments from being deposited on the skin. They said that the best way to tell is from the animal's eyes -- red eyes would qualify the dolphin as albino, while blue would suggest it is leucistic -- but they didn't get the chance.
"It is hard to tell unless we get a look at the eye color, but this little one kept coming to the surface with eyes closed," the group posted on its Facebook page.
Adult Risso's dolphins are usually dark gray, while juveniles are a brownish-gray. They often have white scarring that can cover large portions of the body, but the Monterey Bay Whale Watch said that a sighting of a completely white one is very rare.
The group has confirmed that this is the same animal they spotted in August 2014.