A rare species of cetaceans was seen in the wild in January, in the water near Cape Horn, in Southern Chile. Researchers managed to immortalize their interaction with these sub-Antarctic orcas, that are little known to the general public.
At the southern tip of Chile, at Cape Horn, researchers have had the privilege of seeing a group of orcas that humans have been able to observe only on rare occasions. They are subantarctic killer whales, or type D orcas. These animals had almost achieved the status of "legendary creatures" as it is difficult to observe them. Nevertheless, a new video captured by NOAA (US Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in January of this year proves their existence.
A mysterious creature
The first video. The first images of these orcas date back to 2015. This time, a crew from NGO Sea Shepherd managed to film a group of cetaceans moving at a distance, in the Indian Ocean. Researchers even managed to get closer to the Cape Horn group, enough to collect three biological samples and provide breathtaking images.
Tissue and tooth samples had already been taken, but on an unfortunate occasion, during a massive shipwreck in 1955. Following a tissue analysis in 2013, researchers were able to confirm that type D orcas are genetically different from other groups of orcas. This biological separation dates back about 390,000 years.
A discovery that revived scientific research
"Type D orcas could be the last of the most massive, uncategorized animals on this planet, and a clear indication of the little we know about life in our oceans," commented marine ecologist Bob Pitman. Having searched for the infamous type D orca for over 14 years, the man struggles to contain his enthusiasm when describing cetaceans.
Subantarctic killer whales are distinguished by their prominent forehead, a finer, sharper dorsal fin, smaller teeth, and a smaller spot under the eye. "It looks like it's about to lose its eye patch," Pitman laughs. Researchers now have a broad set of elements to study and analyze to learn more about this rare and mysterious creature.
Check out the pictures of this incredible animal in the video above!