Rare form of albinism breeds ‘pink’ dolphin

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Multiple news sources are reporting on a rare form of albinism in a bottlenose dolphin from Lake Calcasieu in Louisana, America. Apparently the dolphin (imaginatively named ‘Pinky’, which I guess is better than ‘Flipper’) was first spotted in 2007 in the saltwater inland estuary, and is part of a healthy and active pod of bottlenose dolphins.  Caused a lack of melanin production in the eyes and skin, albinism is present across a whole group of organisms (see examples in penguins, sea turtles, alligators and humans), although is incredibly rare – about 1 in 17,000 humans are born with a form of albinism. Whilst ‘Pinky’ stands out from the crowd for fairly obvious reasons (pictured above with its dark grey mother), interestingly the other known albino dolphins (only 14 have ever been spotted in the wild) are pure white.

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Update (12/03/09):

Thanks to Claire for pointing out that Hong Kong sustains large populations of ‘pink’ dolphins, and that this phenomena might not actually be all that rare at all. See here for video footage of pink dolphins in Hong Kong Harbour. Furthermore, according to a Washington Post article:

Technically, Hong Kong’s famous pink dolphins are white. One of the first things Ho explained to us is that when they swim, blood rushes to the surface of their pale skin, lending them a rosy glow. “Just like when we exercise and our faces get red,” she said. “They’re blushing.”

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