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Mysterious New Orca Was Just Found Hiding In Treacherous Waters

“[They] could be the largest undescribed animal left on the planet.”

There was always something a little strange about some of the killer whales who lived in waters off the tip of South America.

For one thing, the distinctive white patch near the orcas' eyes was much smaller than those on other orcas, like the wild ones living off the coast of Washington or captive orcas stuck at SeaWorld.

The heads of these mystery orcas also didn't have the sleek angular shape of other killer whales, but were more round. 

Another strange thing about the type D killer whale was that they didn't live in calm offshore waters like other orcas, but out in really treacherous ocean, in latitudes known as the Roaring 40s and the Furious 50s.

"The type D killer whale lives in the most inhospitable waters on the planet," Bob Pitman, a researcher from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who has been searching for these whales for 14 years, told the Associated Press. "It's a good place to hide."

Only rumors and photographs from fishermen and tourists have provided clues about this strange type of killer whale — until now.

A team of scientists went on an expedition to find these mystery orcas in hopes of discovering more about them. The team spent eight days on a small boat in harsh winds, just waiting to glimpse the special orca. 

Finally, thanks to a special instrument that imitated whale calls, the curious whales started to surround the boat, giving scientists the opportunity to film them.

But more importantly, the team was able to (harmlessly) catch tiny bits of skin from the whales — this will be used to determine through DNA analysis if these whales are a species never described before.

"Type D killer whales could be the largest undescribed animal left on the planet," Pitman said, adding that the whale is also "a clear indication of how little we know about life in our oceans.” 

“We are very excited about the genetic analyses to come," Pitman added.