Tuesday, June 21, 2011

False Killer Whale encounter

On our Molokini Wild Side trip the other day I spotted some very large dorsal fins breaking the surface of the water on our way back from snorkeling the tip of Molokini crater At first i thought it may be bottlenose dolphins, one of the larger dolphins we see, but as we got closer I saw the fins were too big to be any of the regular dolphins we see. That is when I gathered everyone to the front of the boat and let them know that we were having a very special encounter with a pod of False Killer Whales, or Psuedorcas. They can be up to 20ft, darkly colored, rounded head, and tall dorsal fin. And there is only around 123 left in this genetically distinct Hawaiian population.
In fact, this insular population that are residents here in the Hawaiian islands are so endangered that the conservation team at Pacific Whale Foundation is trying to get them listed as endangered species. We have petitions signed by our passengers on all the boats and t-shirts to get the word out. These false killer whales come into contact with the long line fisheries because they go after the same fish that we enjoy eating. They are very social and have been seen passing off a newly caught mahi mahi to others in the pod, to scuba divers, or even to boats in the area. This is the third time I have seen False Killer Whales this year so I was pretty excited. One of these days I'll get a chance to get some underwater photos of them.

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