This week during a trip to the local dive sites our crew were fortunate enough to spot what we think are likely to be false killer whales swimming near to the boat. As a treat for the customers we jumped in and got close enough to swim with them! Check out our Facebook pages for the pictures. We usually see hump back whales and sometimes pilot whales from a distance but were very fortunate to see these rare visitors in our local waters.
The false killer whale is the third largest member of the oceanic dolphin family and lives in temperate tropical waters. As its name implies it shares some characteristics with the Orca, primarily the similar dorsal fin and row of grinning teeth! The skull is also similar but the 2 species are not closely related in DNA.
Unfortunately recent conservation documentation has stated that population sightings have severely declined (four times smaller in numbers) between 1989 and 2009. They are victims of by-catch and are actively hunted in whaling communities throughout the world because of their large range of migratory locations. They are more famous amongst other groups of cetaceans for beaching themselves; tragically 835 individuals were stranded at Mar de Plata in Argentina.
We hope to see them again soon!