A comparison of pigmentation features among North Atlantic killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations

Pirjo Mäkeläinen, Ruth Esteban, Andrew D. Foote, Sanna Kuningas, Julius Nielsen, Filipa I.p. Samarra, Tiu Similä, Nienke C.f. Van Geel, Gíslia A. Víkingsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Here we present a comparison of saddle and eye patch patterns of killer whales from Norwegian, Icelandic, British, Spanishand Greenlandic waters. We found only a small amount of variation in saddle patch shapes, which may reflect a recent phylo-genetic divergence from the most recent common ancestor. Eye patch shapes were more variable than saddle patches in smalldetails. Most individuals had eye patches with parallel orientation, with the exception of a small group of killer whales fromthe Hebrides, which, as previously reported, had sloping eye patches that sloped downward at the posterior end. This differ-entiation in pigmentation patterns of the Hebridean killer whales from neighbouring populations could reflect one or moreof several evolutionary processes, including a deeper phylogenetic divergence, low gene flow with other local populationsand drift.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1341
Number of pages6
JournalJournal Of The Marine Biological Association Of The United Kingdom
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2014


  • Killer whale
  • Orcinus orca
  • Colour pattern
  • Saddle patch
  • Eye patch orientation
  • Genetic drift


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