Have we found a new species of Orca?
Photo Credit: J.P. Sylvestre, South Georgia, 2011.
First recorded back in 1955, 17 of these orca stranded themselves on the coast of Paraparaumu, New Zealand. They were said to have a more rounded head, a narrower dorsal fin and a tiny eyepatch, unlike most orca in other areas around the world.
Fast forward to 2005 when a scientist was able to photograph the whales stealing fish from commercial fishing lines near Crozet Island somewhere in the Indian Ocean. A few years, a lot more photos and quite a few more complaints about the fish thieves and an expedition is in order.
After many days and many attempts they've finally captured these beautiful Orca on camera. They've managed to collect a small DNA sample and now we wait to see if the collected genetic samples show these to be a new breed of Orca never before documented.
Comparison of the new Orca with others is shown in the photo below.
Top: An adult male ‘regular’ killer whale – note the size of the white eye patch, less rounded head and dorsal fin shape. Bottom: An adult male Type D killer whale – note the tiny eye patch, more rounded head, and more narrow, pointed dorsal fin. Illustrations by Uko Gorter.
NOAA Fisheries(2019). Retrieved from https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/scientists-find-mystery-killer-whales-cape-horn-chile