Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Distinct Species of Orca Identified off BC Coast

Transient whales aren't outcasts -- just a different gene pool
Photograph by: Dave Ellifrit

A threatened population of killer whales that spends much of the year hunting seals off the British Columbia coast has been identified by an international team of scientists as a distinct species, separated from its fellow orcas in Canada and elsewhere about 700,000 years ago.

The whales, known as the North Pacific Transients, have long been understood to have a different prey preference than their fish-eating cousins, as well as subtle physical anomalies, such as a more pointed dorsal fin.

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-Randy Bowsell, Canwest News Service

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