If you’ve ever been lucky enough to observe wild orcas in the seas around the UK it would be a reasonable assumption to think you were looking at animals that shared similar behaviour and appearance.
Not so, according to orca researcher Andy Foote of the University of Aberdeen who believes two forms of orcas can be found around the British Isles. Through the study of tooth wear and stable isotope analysis of stranded orca remains from the last two centuries, Dr Foote found two distinct types Type 1 and Type 2 which display markedly different prey preferences. Furthermore, the appearance of these two forms differed significantly with Type 2 male orcas nearly 2 metres longer than Type 1 males.
Rob Lott, Policy Manager at WDCS comments “Scientists have recently proved the existence of three forms of orca in Antarctica (in addition to the three forms known in the Pacific North West) and it’s exciting to now think that different forms of orca can be found much closer to home in UK waters".
Recognition of these different types and their associated needs will be important for the future conservation management of these iconic animals.
Source: BBC News