False Killer Whale -- Cetacean Info at Whale Songs

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pseudorca crassidens

DISCOVERED: Owen, 1846

COMMON NAME: False Killer Whale


* No fixed migrations are known- may move from north to south according to seasonal warming and cooling of the sea
* In the Atlantic Ocean they are reported from Maryland, USA south through the Caribbean Sea to Venezuela and to northern Argentina
* On the east side of the Atlantic they have been recorded as far north as in Central Norway and south to South Africa
* Known in the Mediterranean Sea and occasionally in the Baltic Sea
* In the North Pacific Ocean they are reported from Alaska to southern California
* In the east and from northern Japan, China, and Taiwan southwards
* In the South Pacific they are reported as far as south as Australia and New Zealand
* Found throughout the Indian Ocean


* Uniformly dark body color- unique "elbow" on flippers
* Long, slim body
* Slender head and rounded beak
* Prominent fin



* Deep offshore waters and some semi-enclosed seas such as the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and sometimes in deep coastal waters
* Seems to prefer warmer waters
* Photographs


* Feeds primarily on cephalopods and large fish
* Known to steal fish from lines of commercial and sport fisherman
* One of several species of Ôblackfish' reported to attack smaller cetaceans escaping from tuna purse-seine nets in the eastern Tropical Pacific


* Longest recorded male was 5.96m and the longest female 5.06m
* Males attain sexual maturity between 3.66m and 3.72m (males) 3.64m and 3.49m (females)
* Average length of sexually mature males in the eastern North Atlantic


* Highly acrobatic- body sometimes leaves water when surfacing to breathe
* Readily approaches boats
* Fast active swimmers
* Frequently emerges with mouth open revealing rows of teeth
* Makes sudden stops or sharp turns, especially when feeding
* Bow rides
* Often breaches, usually twisting to fall back into the water on its side, causing a huge splash for a whale of its size
* Makes graceful leaps clear of the water when excited and lobtails
* Seems to be susceptible to stranding, sometimes in huge numbers
* Often gregarious, forming herds of more than a hundred individuals
* Strong central cohesion within herds


* Not much known but there is current evidence that the species is nowhere abundant


* Was known for damaging fisheries and therefore, was hunted
* Occasionally taken in the Japanese and Taiwanese small cetacean fisheries and used for human consumption
* Also some captures in PR China
* Some accidentally killed in gillnets off Sri Lanka
* May be also accidentally taken in tuna long-line fisheries