A rare Type D killer whale was just discovered.
Scientists say they’ve discovered a killer whale species after a 14-year search off the coast of Chile.
“From the beginning, I had referred to [the search] as the needle in the haystack,” NOAA Marine Biologist Lisa Balance said to NPR. “It’s a big ocean, and it’s a rough ocean.”
The Type D killer whales were reportedly first seen in 1955 when they washed up on a New Zealand beach. The orca is smaller with different noses and markings.
The dorsal fin is narrow and very pointy—very different from other killer whales,” said NOAA Marine Ecologist Robert Pitman. “And the head is very different, it’s quite round. When they roll up out of the water, they look like pilot whales.”
In January 2019, a group of NOAA scientists set off to Chile to find the mysterious whales near Cape Horn, where local fisherman reported killer whales stealing fish from their lines. After a bad bout of weather during their three-week expedition, the scientists had a three-hour window to find the whales near where they were first reported. They found approximately 25 to 30 Type D killer whales.
The next step for the scientists will be to record the whales’ vocalization.