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False Killer Whale in the Hawaiian Islands

October 03, 2017

Three distinct populations of false killer whales call Hawaiian waters home.

 Side profile view of a False Killer Whale.

Despite their name, false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are not closely related to true killer whales (Orcinus orca), though their skull shapes are similar. And while killer whales are rarely seen in Hawai‘i (typically only when they’re passing through), three distinct populations of false killer whales—one of which is endangered—call Hawaiian waters home.

NOAA Fisheries works with various partners to promote marine species conservation. This includes establishing a False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team to address the incidental serious injury and death of Hawai‘i false killer whales in longline fisheries.

The video below describes this unique species, including its feeding behavior and threats, and the scientific and conservation efforts to mitigate interactions between false whales and the fishing industry.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Regional Office on October 04, 2023