First sighting of an albino bottlenose dolphin in Africa

Posted on 14 April 2023 By David Henning

When approaching lovers lane in Algoa Bay, a favourite hangout for bottlenose dolphins, when all of a sudden, a white calf appeared among a pod of around 200 dolphins.

A true albino has pink eyes that are clearly visible in this image. They are also light sensitive, which is why the calf is keeping it’s eyes closed. The calf stays close to it’s mother’s side.

This sighting was shared by Raggy Charters, a leading eco-tour agency in Algoa Bay. ‘After 31 years of marine cruises in Algoa Bay . . . I thought I had seen it all,’ they commented on the shared images.

‘All of a sudden, I saw a white flash in the water among a pod of around 200 dolphins. When I saw it again, there it was, a beautiful metre-long ALBINO calf of around a month old.’

Albinism is a genetic anomaly caused by a total or partial absence of melanin in an animal or plant.

‘True albinism is so rare that only a few individuals have been observed since the 1950s and never in Africa,’ they said about the phenomenon in dolphins. ‘As albinos usually stand out from the rest of the school, it makes them an easy meal for predatory sharks.’

‘Algoa Bay has thrown up a few examples of partial albinism in the past. We have observed leucistic penguins, a white humpback whale, a pink dolphin and a few white Southern Right calves, but never a true albino.’

The albino calf always tries to stay in the middle of the school, so it can be afforded the best protection against predators. Most albinos have a tough time surviving, especially during their first few months, as they are much more visible to predators.


A normal bottlenose calf of the same age swims in front of the albino. There is no mistaking the difference in colour.


This albino calf is definitely not a new-born, but probably around a month old, judging from some of it’s smaller cousins in the same school. It looks in a good physical condition.

Raggy Charters have launched a competition to name the alibi calf, where the winner will receive a free cruise to go and view the bottlenose dolphins at St Croix Island, where you can add your suggestion in the comments here.


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