Torres del Paine National Park

Scientists discover a new type of Orca off the southern coast of Chile

A new type of Orca is discovered off the south coast of Chile.
Photo: AP (Reference image)

It is an Orca a little smaller than most of these specimens, with sharper fins and more rounded head, although experts agree that the DNA test results are still lacking to establish that it is a new species.

A team of scientists belonging to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, claims to have found a new type of Killer Whale with a distinctive mark around its eye. According to the analyses, which still need to be confirmed, it could be a new species with at least 24 specimens.

It is an aquatic mammal which for decades was only a myth among sailors and tourists - who claimed to have seen it - but to date it had not been possible to obtain any scientific sample of this animal.

Although there is no real evidence that it is a new species, NOAA experts published the finding. Some scientists consider that it could be a different species, but they prefer to wait for the results of the DNA tests of a sample of tissues.

"This is the orca with the most distinct appearance I have seen," said Robert Pitman, marine ecologist at NOAA in San Diego, United States, who was also part of the team that detected the killer whales off Cape Horn, at the southern end of Chile.

Among the features that stand out of this possible new specimen is the distinctive white spot near the eye, which in ordinary killer whales is large, in these it is small. In addition, its head is slightly more rounded and less elegant compared to the other killer whales and its dorsal fins are smaller and pointed.

Pitman noted that these killer whales are so different that they might not be able to mate with traditional species. With a size between 6 and 7.5 meters long, they are slightly smaller than most of these animals.