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False Killer Whale
Scientific name: Pseudorca crassidens
Stock Assessment / Estimated Breeding Population
Stock information and maps of ranges
For the most recent final Stock Assessment Report (SAR), please visit: NOAA Fisheries - Office of Protected Resources - Marine Mammal SAR, Small Cetaceans
For the most recent draft Pacific SAR, please visit: NOAA Fisheries – Office of Protected Resources – Draft Marine Mammal SAR
Current Management Issues
Take Reduction Plan
False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of false killer whales in Hawaii's commercial longline fisheries.
For more information, please see the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team and Plan webpage
Endangered Species Listing
Petition to List as an Endangered Species: On October 1, 2009, NOAA Fisheries (also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service) received a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council to list the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) as an endangered species and designate critical habitat to ensure its recovery pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended. We consider the Hawaiian insular population, Hawaiian insular stock, and the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale to be synonymous.
Note that the main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale is separate from both the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands false killer whale and the Hawaii pelagic false killer whale.
- Petition to list the insular population of the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (October 2009, pdf 260kB)
90-day finding on the Petition to List the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale:
On January 5, 2010, NOAA Fisheries announced in the Federal Register a finding that a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council to list the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale as endangered presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.
- False Killer Whale 90-day Finding, Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 2 / Tuesday, January 5, 2010 (Jan 2010, pdf 62kB)
Status Review of the Species:
NOAA Fisheries then initiated a status review of the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale to determine if listing under the ESA was warranted. In August 2010 the NOAA Fisheries false killer whale Biological Review Team completed the following status review report of the species:
- NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-PIFSC-22 (August 2010, pdf 3.6MB).
12-month Finding/Proposed Listing Rule:
NOAA Fisheries completed a comprehensive status review of the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale under the ESA. After reviewing the best scientific and commercial information available, we determined that the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale is a distinct population segment (DPS) that qualifies as a species under the ESA. Moreover, after evaluating threats facing the DPS, and considering efforts being made to protect the Main Hawaiian Islands insular DPS, we determined that the DPS is declining and is in danger of extinction throughout its range. On November 17, 2010, we announced in the Federal Register that we proposed to list the DPS as endangered under the ESA.
- Proposed Endangered Status for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment, Federal Register/Vol. 75, No. 221/ Wednesday, November 17, 2010 (November 2010, pdf 113kB)
Notice of Availability of New Information:
In light of newly available information, we reconvened the Biological Review Team and requested a reevaluation of the DPS determination. Additionally, we published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register (77 FR 57554) announcing the existence of this new information and opened a 15-day public comment period pertaining to the new information.
- Reopening of Public Comment Period on Proposed Endangered Status for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment, Federal Register/Vol. 77, No. 181/ Tuesday September 18, 2012 (September 2012, pdf 193.64 kB).
The new information we considered is as follows:
Photo-identification and Satellite Tagging of False Killer Whales Provides Evidence of an Island-associated Population in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, by Robin Baird et al. 2012. (July 2012, pdf 713.88kB)
Line-transect Abundance Estimates of False Killer Whales in the Pelagic Region of the Hawaiian Exclusive Economic Zone and in the Insular Waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, by Amanda Bradford et al. 2012. (June 2012, pdf 513.67kB)
Following review of the Biological Review Team’s reevaluation of the DPS designation and public comments, we concluded that the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale is still a DPS because it is both discrete and significant to the taxon.
- NOAA Internal Report NMFS PIFSC IR-12-038 (Nov 2012, 1.03Mb)
Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whales DPS Listed as Endangered
On November 28, 2012, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule to list the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale as an endangered distinct population segment under the ESA. Note that the main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale is separate from both the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands false killer whale and the Hawaii pelagic false killer whale.
- Final Rule (77 FR 70915, Nov 2012, 322 kb)
- Long, slender, almost entirely black bodies with an anchor-shaped gray patch on their ventral side and a rounded, conical head.
- Pectoral fins with a distinct hump that points backwards.
- Most distinguishing feature are 7-12 pairs of large conical teeth that resemble teeth of a killer whale.
- Adults size range from 16-20 feet and weigh from 1,000-3,000 pounds, with males at the upper end of the scale.
- They are highly social animals forming pods of 10-40 individuals in Hawaii, and up to 100 individuals elsewhere.
- Interactions with fisheries
- Marine debris entanglement or ingestion
- Anthropogenic noise
- Marine pollutants
*For additional information on potential threats, please refer to the status review of the species: NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-PIFSC-22 (August 2010, pdf 3.6MB).
Important Phone Numbers
Marine Mammal Stranding/Entanglement Hotline: 1-888-245-9840
- False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team
- Cascadia Research, false killer whale information
- Marine Mammal and Turtle Viewing Guidelines
- Long-term site fidelity, inter-island movements, and association patterns (Aug 2008, pdf 1.7 MB)
- Dorsal Fin Disfigurement as Possible Indicator of Long-Line Fishery Interactions in Hawaiian Waters (June 2005, pdf 293 kB)
- Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS) Species Fact Sheet