Evidence of an island-associated population of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) in the northwestern Hawaiian islands

TitleEvidence of an island-associated population of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) in the northwestern Hawaiian islands
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBaird R.W, Oleson E.M, Barlow J, Ligon A.D, Gorgone A.M, Mahaffy S.D
JournalPacific Science
Date Published2013/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0030-8870
Accession NumberWOS:000329260300002
Keywordscyclonic eddies; movements; patterns; waters

Two populations of false killer whales, Pseudorca crassidens, are recognized from Hawaiian waters: the Hawaiian insular population, an island-associated population found around the main Hawaiian Islands; and the Hawai'i pelagic population, found in offshore waters. This species has not been previously documented near the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. During a 2010 large-vessel survey throughout the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, false killer whales from 11 encounters were individually photo-identified, and photos were compared among encounters and with a catalog of false killer whales from the main Hawaiian Islands. Individuals from three of the encounters, all in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands within the eastern part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, were the only ones documented that matched with false killer whales previously seen around the main Hawaiian Islands, and the matches were to individuals documented off Kaua'i in 2008 that were of unknown population membership. Two individuals from one of these three 2010 encounters were instrumented with satellite tags attached to dorsal fins, and their movements were documented over 4.6 and 52 days. Movements of the tagged individuals ranged from French Frigate Shoals to Middle Bank (between Nihoa and Ni'ihau) and included shallow nearshore waters and deep waters to 147 km from land. Combined, the photo-identification and satellite-tagging results suggest that there is a second island-associated population of this species in Hawai'i that primarily uses the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with a range that overlaps with that of the main Hawaiian Islands insular population.

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