False Killer Whale Facts
- Despite their common name, as a member of the Blackfish group, the remarkable False Killer Whale isn’t a whale at all. This impressive ocean species actually represents one of the largest members of the dolphin family.
- This species exhibits the same spirit of playfulness that the smaller and better-known dolphin species do. As a result of their behavior, they remain the only member of their group to ride bow waves on a regular basis.
- However, due to their depredation of fishing lines, they continue to be routinely hunted in parts of their endemic range. Additionally, this predominantly occurs in Japan, where they, unfortunately, remain the targets of organized hunting drives.
- Due to such activities, in addition to other dangers, they now face grave concerns for their future. While the IUCN does include them on their Red List of Threatened Species, their current status remains Data Deficient.
False Killer Whale Physical Description
While the False Killer Whale ranks among the largest of dolphins, individual sizes vary. This occurs partly due to the presence of sexual dimorphism between the genders. Males attain a maximum length of roughly 19.7 ft (6 m), while females only reach 14.8 ft (4.5 m).
In addition, males develop a much stockier body shape. They average a weight of 4,850 lb (2,200 kg), while females – only 2,646 lb (1,200 kg).
In general, both genders display a primarily black color, yet some individuals will be dark gray. Also, lighter patches occasionally form on the throat and chest. The head has a narrow and rather pointed shape, with a prominent bulbous melon.
While they possess no beak, the upper jaw sometimes overhangs the lower one slightly.
Species: P. crassidens
False Killer Whale Distribution, Habitat and Ecology
The magnificent False Killer Whale has a broad, yet specific distribution. While they inhabit three separate oceans, they primarily occur only in the temperate or tropical regions.
They often appear on the surface, but they typically inhabit regions with a depth greater than 3,300 ft (1,000 m).
They possess a highly social nature and typically inhabit pods of between 10-60 individuals. They also often temporarily join with pods of other dolphin species, sometimes forming groups of hundreds.
This species reaches maturity at approximately 12 years of age, and have an average lifespan of about 60 years. Sadly, for reasons that remain a mystery, they also rank among the most common cetaceans to engage in mass strandings.