Say hello to the world’s 3rd largest dolphin, the false killer whale. This cetacean only has a couple things in common with orcas, their appearance and the fact that they have been known to hunt other marine mammals. Aside from that they are indeed dolphins. They are able to adapt to the sad life in a public aquarium setting. But they tend to be aggressive towards other dolphins, so they aren’t kept much. Their existence is threatened due to bycatch (getting caught in fishing nets) and drive hunting in the Faroe Islands, the Solomon Islands, Peru, and Japan. The act of drive hunting entails using boats to force or drive the cetaceans towards shore, where they beach themselves. They are then killed in large numbers and sent off for various purposes. False killer whales are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Pseudorca crassidens
Weight: Up to 3,000 lbs.
Length: Up to 20 feet
Lifespan: Up to 60+ years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) These dolphins can dive to over 3,000 feet!
2.) They have earned their namesake due to the similarities between their skulls and those of orcas.
3.) The false killer whale hunts squid, tuna, dolphinfish (aka mahi-mahi), sharks, seals, walruses, sea birds, humpback whales and sperm whales.
4.) False killer whales are often seen with oceanic bottlenose dolphins; hunting with them or trying to eat them.
5.) Hunting takes place during the day as they are diurnal.
But wait, there’s more on the false killer whale!
6.) The only perceived predators are orcas and large sharks, like the great white. But nothing has been officially documented as of yet.
7.) It has been documented that these dolphins are able to perform leaps and flips out of the water.
Did you know…?
In 1986, a pod of approximately 110+ of these dolphins became stranded at Flinders Bay. The locals staged a three-day rescue to save them. There are also other cases of mass strandings; even 1 that involved around 800 false killer whales!
8.) These sea mammals are sexually dimorphic in that the males are substantially larger than females.
9.) False killer whales are polygamous (mate with multiple partners).
10.) Females have 1 calf every 7 years.
Now a Short False Killer Whale Video!
Also, check out the Critter Science YouTube channel. Videos added frequently!
Want to suggest a critter for me to write about? Let me know here.