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  • Pseudorca crassidens

    Common Name: False Killer Whale

    General Description: The False Killer Whale (or the Blackfish) is slender and long bodied. Its blunt head is small relative to body size. The tip of the lower jaw is usually well behind the overhanging upper jaw. The dorsal fin is tall and may be rounded at the tip or sharp pointed. It is said to be ‘cucumber shaped’. The small flippers are narrow and pointed and have a broad hump on the front margin near the middle, diagnostic of the species.

    The body is all black. There is a blaze of grey on the chest between the flippers, and an area of light grey may be present on the sides of the head. Calves are in general lighter in colour than adults, with a larger pale area on the belly.

    Size: Adults, Male animals grow to a length of 6 m and attain a weight of 2 tons, whilst females may be 5.1 m long and weigh 1 ton. Calves at birth, 1.5 m long.

    Appearance At Sea: False Killer Whales are gregarious animals. They may also associate with other cetaceans. The tendency of the species, like other ‘blackfish’, to mass-strand has allowed close study of their anatomy and other aspects of their biology.

    They are very social and are often seen bow riding. After leaving the bow they can often be seen leaping in the wake of the ship. This kind of behaviour in a whale of its size makes it very easy to identify the species.

    The schools of False Killer Whales are usually large but these are generally subdivided into coordinated family groups of 4-6 individuals. They blow once every 15-20 seconds. When they breathe, they rise exposing the back, fin, part of the flank and all of the head, often with their mouths open so that the large white teeth are visible.

    False Killers groups make audible, drawn-out, high-pitched sounds that can be heard above water. This allows them to be detected at distances of 200 m, sometimes above the sound of outboard engines.

    Off Japan and Hawaii, they have been known to take tuna from fishing lines and nets. They are also capable of damaging nets extensively.

    Found In: False Killers are known to be oceanic animals, not commonly seen near land, except where deep water is close by. They feed partly on squid. Their large teeth and a wide gape also make it possible for them to catch sizable fish like bonito, tuna and mahi-mahi.

    Records from India: The records from India include strandings, catches and sightings.

    Date : 14 February 1901
    Details : One stranded on beach near Trivandrum.
    References : Ferguson, 1903

    Date : After February 1902
    Details : Two immature specimens measuring 3.5 and 3.2 m (11 feet 10 inches and 10 feet 9.5 inches) recorded at Trivandrum.
    References : Pillay, 1926

    Date : After February 1902
    Details : Adult specimens recorded at Rajakamangalum and Tengapatam.
    References : Pillay, 1926

    Date : [?]
    Details : Recorded by Pearson south of India.
    References : De Silva, 1987

    Date : 27 November 1960
    Details : Two specimens stranded at Pozhikara, 60 km south of Trivandrum
    References : Silas & Kumara Pillay, 1960

    Date : 28 July 1975
    Details : One specimen stranded at Puthiappa, 5 km north of Calicut.
    References : Lal Mohan et al., 1984; De Silva, 1987

    Date : 18 October 1975
    Details : One male stranded at Rameswaram.
    References : Thiagarajan et al., 1984

    Date : 27 July 1976
    Details : Two false killers entangled in gillnets off Madhuban, Port Blair; one escaped.
    References : Sivaprakasam, 1980; James, 1984

    Date : 27 July 1976
    Details : Two false killers entangled in gillnets off Madhuban, Port Blair; one escaped.
    References : Sivaprakasam, 1980; James, 1984

    Date : 9 June 1977
    Details : False killer caught in gillnet off Port Blair.
    References : Sivaprakasam, 1980

    Date : August 1978
    Details : Specimen from Gulf of Cambay, Maharashtra in Institute of Science, Navsari.
    References : De Silva, 1987

    Date : 1978
    Details : One caught in gillnet off the Calicut coast.
    References : Lal Mohan, 1985

    Date : July 1979
    Details : One landed at Puthiappa beach, Calicut.
    References : James & Lal Mohan, 1987

    Date : 1982–1984
    Details : One male caught off Calicut.
    References : James & Lal Mohan, 1987

    Date : 12 November 1980
    Details : A few sightings off the coast of India.
    References : Alling, 1986

    Date : 4 April 1988
    Details : Four whales seen swimming in Mandapam Bay, Palk Bay side, were possibly this species.
    References : Anonymous, 1988b

    Date : 5 July 1988
    Details : Two whales seen off Mandapam on the Palk Bay side identified tentatively as this species.
    References : Vedavysya Rao et al., 1989

    Date : 6 August 1992
    Details : Immature female brought to shore at Veerapandianpatnam, Gulf of Mannar, caught in drift gillnet.
    References : Mohamad Kasim al., 1993

    Date : 1993 [?]
    Details : One female specimen caught in gillnet off the Calicut coast.
    References : Lal Mohan, 1995

    False Killers have been recorded in Pakistan, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf. There are sight records from Djibouti and the Horn of Africa. The species is taken as a bycatch in Sri Lanka, where there have been two instances of mass strandings – one involving 167 animals in 1929 and the other of 97 in 1934.

    World Distribution: Found around the world in tropical and warm temperate waters. Occasionally recorded in northern temperate waters.

    Could Be Confused With: When the sightings are fleeting there is a possibility of confusion with the Pygmy Killer Whale Feresa attenuata, Shortfin Pilot Whale.

    Globicephala melaena, Great Killer Whale Orcinus orca and the Melon-headed Whale Peponocephala electra. They are all dark, with prominent fins and lack beaks. However they can be distinguished as follows:

    Species : False Killer Whale
    Length : More than 4m long
    Head : Narrow, tapered head
    Fin : High curved fin
    Flippers : Long pointed flippers with elbow
    Markings : No markings visible

    Species : Pygmy Killer Whale
    Length : More than 4m long
    Head : Square, bulbous head
    Fin : Broad-based fin
    Flippers : Long pointed flipper with elbow
    Markings : White visible on throat

    Species : Shortfin Pilot Whale
    Length : More than 4 m long
    Head : Square, bulbous head
    Fin : Broad-based fin
    Flippers : Long pointed flipper with elbow
    Markings : White visible on throat

    Species : Great Killer Whale
    Length : More than 4m long
    Head : Very high fin
    Fin : Oval paddle-shaped flippers
    Flippers : Short beak, clearly marked off from melon
    Markings : Bright white spot near eye and white flank patch

    Species : Melon-Headed Whale
    Length : Less than 4m long
    Head : Very pointed head
    Fin : Simple curved fin
    Flippers : Short pointed flippers
    Markings : White goatee marking on chin

    Diagnostic Features: At sea, Blunt head, high, curved fin, small, narrow and pointed flippers.

    Stranded Specimens:There are 8 to 11 pairs of large, conspicuous teeth of circular cross-section in each jaw, which are also often visible in the open mouths of free-ranging animals.

    The flippers have a broad hump on the front margin near the middle, which is diagnostic of the species.

    False Killer Whale

    Size comparison against an average human

    Conservation Status

    Data Deficient (IUCN 3.1)[2]

    Scientific Classification

    Kingdom Animalia
    Phylum Chordata
    Class Mammalia
    Subclass Eutheria
    Order Cetacea
    Suborder Odontoceti
    Family Delphinidae
    Genus Pseudorca
    Species P. crassidens

    Binomial Name

    Pseudorca crassidens

    ( Owen, 1846 )

    False Killer Whale range.

    Source: Wikipedia