Length

between 17-20 feet

Weight

Females weigh 2,600 pounds

Males weigh 4,900 pounds

Population

In Hawaii, only 150-200 individuals

Distribution

Tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters of all ocean basins

Description

A commonly overlooked aquatic creature, the false killer whale gets its name from the similarly shaped skulls that they have to that of killer whales. The “crassidens” in their scientific name, Pseudorca crassidens, means “thick tooth.” It was first described by the British paleontologist and biologist Richard Owen in 1846, basing this work on a fossil discovered in 1843. By 2012, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recognized the Hawaiian population, which numbers around 150 individuals, as endangered.

These mammals have a slender black body with a gray throat and neck.  This whale shares certain characteristics with the orca including a similar appearance and the fact that it also attacks and kills marine mammals. Despite these similarities, it is not considered a killer whale or even closely related to the killer whale. They do typically attack marine mammals, however, it isn’t known if they ever consume these animals. The marine mammals they hunt, smaller dolphins or even humpback and sperm whales, are not usually killed for a food source but scientists believe they just kill them to get rid of the competition for food.The false killer whale diet consists of mostly fish and squid. False killer whales tend to enjoy traveling and living in large aggregations. At times they may be found gathered together with other species such as bottlenose dolphins. They have a lengthy average lifespan of 55 – 65 years. Despite being found throughout various parts of the world these marine mammals are not considered an abundant species in any of the oceans they are found in.