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Friday, June 20, 2014

FABULOUS ALBINOS


What is this?  See end of posting.  

I happened to see on TV last night an albino humpback whale.  Here is Migaloo (an aboriginal term for white fellow) another one from Australia:


I wondered why this condition occured in nature.  Turns out that all vetebrates show this abnormality.  About one in 17,000 of us are albinos, suffering from albinism.  Suffer because these humans are very sensitive to sunlight and generally have visual defects.  Some animals in the wild lose their camouflage and don't live long.  In Tanzania, witchdoctors make special potions from albinos and a complete set of albino body parts is worth $75,000.

Albinism is a genetic disorder characterized by an absence of tyrosinase, a copper-containing enzyme involved in the production of melanin.  Here is 500 pound White Fog from Gatorland Florida, who is almost 11 feet long:


He lives with three other white gators, his brothers, and there are only 12 known worldwide.  Actually, White Fog is more accurately leucistic, for he has piercing blue eyes.  This condition occurs every 5 million births.

How's this for an exotic rarity, a two-headed albino snake:


Snowflake is the only albino gorilla raised in captivity, captured from the wild in Equatorial Guinea, lived 37 years at the Barcelona Zoo, fathered 22 offspring, none albino, and passed away in 2003.


Albinos can be pink, as this dolphin.  Meet Pinky from Lake Calcaeieu in Louisiana:


And more:


One in ten million buffalo (also known as bison) is born white.  But there is a herd of 12 Sacred White Buffalos at Spirit Mountain Ranch 20 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona.:


Then, of course, there is Moby Dick, the novel by Herman Melville.  
  • Turns out this story is based on Mocha Dick of two centuries ago, a true white sperm whale with a lot of white barnacles, who was measured to be 70 feet long, and is known to have attacked 100 ships, sinking 20.  He only went after whalers, because they came after him first.   He was finally caught and yielded 100 barrels of oil and some ambergris.  He had over 20 harpoons on his body. 
  • Regarding Melville's masterpiece, the book only earned him $556.37, and sold perhaps 3000 copies in the forty years after publication.
  • Whalers have taken around a million sperm whales, however, there remain around a million in our seas today, but are protected.
  • Best as I can tell, no one alive has seen a white sperm whale, but here is a photo of a standard one by Brandon Cole:

And, of course, they have the profile of a sperm.
  • Moby Dick films:
    • 1926:  The Sea Beast, with John Barrymore as Captain Ahab, and remade in 1930.
    • 1956:  The most recognized, with Gregory Peck as Ahab.
    • 1965:  The Bedford Incident, with an anonymous Soviet submarine as Moby Dick, and a Navy destroyer as Pequod, captained by Richard Widmark, with Sidney Poitie and Donald Sutherland.
    • 1978:  Moby Dick, Jack Aranson as Ahab.
    • 2004:  Captain Ahab, a French flick.
    • 2010:  Moby Dick, with Barry Bostwick as Captain Ahab, on a Navy submarine Pequod, and the whale wins again.
    • 2014:  The Whale, a 2013 British film to be shown this year on Animal Planet as Revenge of the Whale, and stars Martin Sheen as a cabin boy on the Essex, a whaling ship which was sunk by a sperm whale in the Pacific in 1820, and inspired Melville to write his book.  Has not yet been shown, but is coming.

Oh about that albino baby dragon at the top, it's a fake.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at an all-time high:  16,946.  Said to be the reason was geopolitical easing of worries about Ukraine and Iraq.

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