Why is it called a false killer whale?

Answered by Cody Janus

The name “false killer whale” may seem a bit misleading at first, as these marine mammals do not resemble killer whales externally. However, the name actually refers to the shape of their skulls, which is similar to that of killer whales. This is why they are called “false” killer whales.

False killer whales, scientifically known as Pseudorca crassidens, are a species of dolphins rather than whales. They can reach lengths of up to 6 meters, making them one of the largest members of the dolphin family. Despite their size, they exhibit behaviors more commonly associated with smaller dolphins.

One of the notable characteristics of false killer whales is their fast and agile swimming. They are known for their swift movements through the water, often traveling in groups or pods. These pods can consist of anywhere from a few individuals to several dozen. The species is highly social and frequently engages in cooperative hunting and feeding.

While false killer whales are not known for their acrobatic displays like some dolphin species, they occasionally leap out of the water, similar to dolphins, which can be a spectacular sight to witness. These leaps, known as breaches, may serve various purposes, including communication, play, or simply for the thrill of it.

Another interesting behavior of false killer whales is their interaction with whale watching vessels. Unlike many other marine mammals, they sometimes approach these boats, seemingly curious about the humans onboard. This behavior can provide a unique opportunity for humans to observe and study these magnificent creatures up close.

It is important to note that false killer whales, despite their name, are not inherently dangerous to humans. They are generally docile and not known to attack or harm humans in the wild. However, as with any wild animal, it is crucial to respect their space and observe them from a safe distance to avoid any potential harm to both the animals and ourselves.

False killer whales got their name from the similarity in the shape of their skulls to that of killer whales. Despite their name, they are actually a species of dolphins and exhibit behaviors more akin to smaller dolphins. Their fast swimming, occasional leaping, and curiosity towards whale watching vessels make them a fascinating species to observe in their natural habitat.