Type D Orca’s
They were first identified and discovered in 1955 (see above) when a pod of 17 whales mass stranded in New Zealand. A skeleton from this stranding is now on display in Te Papa Tongarewa museum in Wellington.
Type D are easily distinguishable from their fellow orca by the smaller eyepatches and bulbous round heads and a very curved thin dorsal. Originally it was thought the difference in appearance was a genetic mutation.
They are not often spotted due to preferring climates and waters not often visited by humans - the Sub Arctic. So not much is known about the Type D’s.
Scientists who went back and examined the remains of the orca held at the museum found that it was not a genetic mutation that caused the appearance change. The population had split from the orca we know today an estimated 390,000 years ago so long they should be considered an independent sub species.
What this means is much more research is needed on these orca, scientists can only speculate on their diet. But it does show to never underestimate the value of a museum- nearly 50 years after the skeleton was stored their the samples and tests were run to find their divergence.