Monday, April 26, 2010

New Killer Whale Species Proposed

There have been several stories in the news lately about new species that have been
discovered. I personally would love to see a new story like this in the news every single day of the week.

The latest news is that scientists have proposed a new species of killer whale.

In the North Pacific, three distinct types of killer whales are recognized: resident orcas, transient orcas and offshore orcas. The three different types seem to live in the oceans surrounding Antarctica as well: type-A, type-B and type-c.

Using a fairly new method called highly parallel sequencing scientists have been able to "see clear differences among the species" according to Phillip Morin, a geneticist at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California.

As of now, it is unclear whether the resident, offshore, type-A Antarctic and North
Atlantic types of Orcas are a single species, separate species or separate subspecies. Researchers would like more samples for further analysis but collecting information on killer whales in the wild isn't always the easiest thing to do.

Concrete information on the species of killer whales is important because not only does it help us understand them better but it will also help in conservation efforts.

Orcas, or killer whales as they are commonly known, aren't really whales at all. They're actually the largest of all dolphins. Orcas are intelligent and powerful animals that have the capability of hunting and killing anything including the much feared great white shark. Orcas are probably most widely known and recognizable for their appearances in the "Free Willy" movies and for their performances at marine parks such as Sea World.

For more information and a graphic check out this article.

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