Antarctic orca ecotypes are just too cool. It’s amazing how one species can be so different in not only their preferred food source, but their physical appearance as well.
Type A: These are the most familiar orcas to many people as they resemble the orcas in the northern hemisphere. They generally live in open water and feed on minke whales and perhaps even elephant seals. Type As are also quite large, up to 30 feet in length.
Type B: Now these orcas are really cool. You can see that they have huge eyepatches and very strong, prominent jaws. Their white areas are also often stained a yellowish color. This is because of diatoms, a type of algae. They live in the pack ice and feed on seals; they are known very well for their wave-washing hunting technique.
Type C: These are the smallest ecotype of orcas in the world. Adult males only reach 20 feet, a far cry from their huge type A cousins. Also notice their small slanted eyepatches. Type C’s live mainly in the pack ice in Ross Sea. Their preferred prey is Antarctic toothfish, which, unfortunately is also a favored fish of humans. Type C’s may not be faring as well as other Antarctic ecotypes because humans are taking their main source of food.
Type D: The most striking thing
about type D orcas are their almost nonexistent eyepatches. They have very bulbous foreheads as well, so if you were to come across one, you probably wouldn’t mistake it for any other ecotype! These orcas are very elusive and are rarely seen. There was a mass stranding in New Zealand in 1955, and there have only been a handful of sightings since then. They stick around warmer subantarctic waters north of 60 degrees. Their current prey is unknown, but there have been reports of them stealing fish off longlines.