Angel the bottlenose pink dolphin, pictured above, is the world’s only albino dolphin in captivity.
Angel was captured last year as a baby during the annual “drive fishery” in Taiji, Japan, when hundreds of dolphins are herded into shallow water and killed with spears. The practice came to worldwide attention in 2009 after the release of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.
She was then brought to live at the Taiji Whale Museum. Her telltale vivid pink eyes and mouth leave no doubt that she is an albino and not merely white. There have only been a total of 14 recorded sightings of albino bottlenose dolphins since the first was spotted in 1962, so she belongs to a very exclusive club.
According to a report in the New Scientist, Angel’s startling appearance quickly caught the eye of animal rights groups, who sued the aquarium for preventing them from checking up on her health. The attention caused by the court case forced the museum to lift its restrictions.
Angel’s popularity is understandable considering how rare albinism is in dolphin species, says Luca Giovagnoli, a vet from Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project based in Santa Monica, California.