February 17, 2016
Killer whales in the Strait of Gibraltar are socially, genetically and ecologically distinct from other groups in the north Atlantic and Canaries, according to a new scientific study.
Until now, orcas in the strait had been regarded as belonging to the same social group as those around the Canary Islands.
But the new research has established that none of the strait’s resident orcas has been spotted in the Canaries, or vice versa, meaning there is no interaction between the groups.
Based on detailed study of skin and fat samples, the scientists have also established that orcas in the Strait of Gibraltar do not share the same genes or even diet as other groups in Spain or Europe.
“The orcas in the Strait of Gibraltar are unique, they are isolated and bear different characteristics to orcas in the rest of Spain and the European continent,” said Spanish cetacean conservation group CIRCE.