False killer whale research in Hawaii

This 2013 video from Ari Atoll in the Maldives is called False Killer Whales caught on tape while feeding.

From Honolulu Civil Beat in Hawaii:

Cluster of False Killer Whales Tagged for First Time Off Kona

Rare group was photographed and tagged last weekend — the first time they’d been seen in four years.

June 11, 2015

By Cliff Hahn

In an exciting encounter with an elusive group of Pseudorca (that’s “false killer whales” in non-geek terms), a team of biologists from Cascadia Research Collective were able to tag three of the cetaceans (marine species that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises) which will enable satellite tracking of their movements throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Each tag is attached remotely (smart idea) and will provide GPS coordinates 10 to 12 times a day for the next few months.

The team was also able to photograph about 20 different individuals and will compare them to an existing photo catalog. “Every adult in the population is distinctive,” says Dr. Robin Baird, a research biologist with Cascadia, the non-profit organization that is leading the research. “We’ve already discovered that one of the individuals photographed was first documented in 1986, twenty-nine years ago.”

The new tags are showing that the whales have remained off the north end of Hawaii Island and in the Alenuihahi. (Channel that separates the island of Hawaii and Maui.)

But where are they going next? That’s anyone’s guess.

False killer whales have not been studied much in the wild — which is why last weekend’s tagging is so important. In November 2012, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recognized the Hawaiian population of false killer whales, which numbers around 150 individuals, as endangered. Historically, the species was thought extinct until the discovery of a large cluster in the Baltic Sea’s Kiel Bay in 1861.

Researchers refer to false killer whale “social clusters”, which are like killer whale “pods” – long-term groupings of closely related individuals who tend to stick together. “Cluster 1” and “Cluster 3” whales are seen a few times a year. But the recently tagged whales are part of “Cluster 2” and hadn’t been seen by anyone in nearly four years. Hawaii’s false whale population is unique, since they remain within 70 miles of the state’s shore.

“We’ve been hoping to find Cluster 2 for years, but they obviously spend very little time on the leeward sides of the islands where our research is based,” says Baird. “Saturday was our last day on the water and the winds were calm, so we were able to spend time in deep water north of Kona, an area we rarely get to.”

The research project was funded by grants from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of NOAA Fisheries and the Hawaii Ocean Project, and was undertaken in collaboration with the National Marine Sanctuary.

5 thoughts on “False killer whale research in Hawaii

  1. Pingback: False killer whales, Hawaii, close up video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  3. The largest swath of protected ocean ever (!) could be created in weeks, simply with President Obama’s signature.

    But Hawai’i’s powerful fishing lobby is ferocious and is working hard to stop the deal from closing and without a wave of voices supporting the dolphins, sharks, turtles, and more who depend on this sea, everything could be lost.

    Insiders say that Obama wants to hear from the international community, knowing that protecting the ocean is a global task, and a failure not only threatens the majestic creatures in the sea, it threatens all of our survival. Add your name to the petition below with just one click to show him we’re all in this together — when enough people have signed we’ll deliver our voices directly to the White House and to the local leaders in Hawai’i who need our support:


    To President Obama, Hawai’i Governor Ige, and Senators Hirono and Schatz:
    “To secure the future of our planet, we need to protect the beautiful biodiversity that sustains it. The proposed marine national monument at Papahānaumokuākea is an opportunity for your government and the world to take the kind of dramatic steps we need. As concerned citizens with a stake in our seas, we call on you to make Papahānaumokuākea the largest protected space in the world, one with the maximum possible boundaries, a place we can look to for hope and inspiration.”


    To save our oceans, experts say we need to set aside as much as 30% in protected areas as soon as possible. This reserve — in a sacred place Hawaiʻians call Papahānaumokuākea and that some see as the source of humans’ connection with the holy — would be a huge step in that direction, protecting 1.6 million square kilometers of ocean habitat home to over 7,000 species. A quarter of these can’t be found anywhere else on the planet — it’s a stunning piece of our precious biodiversity that we can’t afford to lose.

    But Papahānaumokuākea is also unique because experts say it’s an exceptional ‘climate refuge’. As our oceans heat up, marine life is traveling to cooler waters — and this reserve is big enough and placed perfectly to span both tropical and more temperate ocean. That means it could maintain coral reef — and the critical biodiversity it sustains — in a way that most other places on Earth won’t be able to.

    President Obama — who is from Hawaiʻi, a local hero — has overseen the creation of several critical protected areas, but this could be a new crowning achievement — one that he could announce at home in Hawaiʻi at a major conference in September.

    We’ve fought for and won protected areas around the world, including off the coast of Hawaiʻi just two years ago — where we beat these very same lobbyists. Let’s show everyone from the locals behind the project to Obama himself that the world is 100% behind this plan. Add your name to the petition now with just one click, and protect Papahānaumokuākea:


    The fishing industry doesn’t have a leg to stand on in the debate. They want to be able to keep fishing big-eye tuna in the area — but they’ve already fished out 86% of the world’s stock of the species. And not only that, they only get about 5% of their catch from within these waters, and would be free to keep fishing elsewhere. But they’re powerful lobbyists and they’re making their case heard — let’s make sure we drown them out!

    With hope,

    Danny, Nick, Luis, Lisa, Nell, Risalat, Ari, Emma, and the rest of the Avaaz team


    Native Hawaiians Call for World’s Largest Marine Reserve (Pew Trusts)

    Obama’s moving closer to creating the world’s largest marine reserve — in Hawaii (Washington Post)


  4. Pingback: Baltic sea dolphin swims with humans, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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