For more than 60 years, marine biologists who study killer whales puzzled over the appearance of a pod of whales that appeared on a beach in New Zealand in the 1950s. These whales looked strange. Killer whales, yes, but a different, blunter snout than killer whales typically have, different dorsal fins too. Fishermen and tourists have over the years reported seeing these whales, called “Type D” killer whales, though scientists hadn’t yet confirmed their existence. But in January a team of biologists headed to the waters off Chile and, boom, were greeted by two dozen whales that matched the looks of the Type D whales. They were able to collect tissue samples from some of the whales and will soon begin a test to determine if they are in fact, a whole new species. While they’d likely suffer the same habitat concerns facing other species, it’s still a bit of good news for biodiversity. Read more at NOAA, here. Photo: J.P. Sylvestre, NOAA.
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