Scientists want new name for mammal-eating orcas

Killer whale photo by Kat Kellner/Flickr Creative Commons

A group of U.S. and Canadian marine mammal experts want to rename a type of killer whale for the researcher whom they consider the founding father of modern killer whale scientific studies.

John Ford of Canada’s Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo British Columbia says the experts want to rename mammal-eating killer whales “Bigg’s killer whales” in honor of Michael Bigg.

The mammal-eaters are now called transient killer whales.

Bigg’s observations off British Columbia and Washington state led to the identification of transients.

He was the first to determine that individual whales could be identified by pigmentation patterns on the saddle patch at the base of their dorsal fins.

Paul Wade at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle says colleagues have begun using “Bigg’s killer whales” in research papers.



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