The false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) is one of the larger dolphin species, capable of growing nearly 20 feet long. They are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world. Not much is known about this species in the wild, though they are sometimes known to approach humans and boats. False killer whale/bottlenose dolphin hybrids, called “wholphins”, have been reported in the wild, and there have been confirmed specimens in captivity.


Rare Whales Check Out GoPro Underwater Off Dana Point, Calif.

Captain Dave, owner and operator of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California, had an extremely rare group False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens), come over to his boat and surround him. These animals have not been seen off Dana Point by Captain Dave for nearly a decade.

At one point Captain Dave, who was out in his own small inflatable boat near his whale watching boat, had five of these whales come over and surround him. He put his GoPro in the water and one curious whale came up about four inches from his camera and examined it. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Captain Dave. “I was sitting there for about 5 minutes and the whales came over and surrounded me. Their whistles were so loud I could hear them above the surface. I grabbed my GoPro and wasn’t even sure it was on and stuck in the water. I was tempted to touch them but I didn’t want to disturb them.”

“One of the whales even became seemingly jealous of another and chased it off so he could come over to me. It was one of the most amazing encounters I’ve ever had with wild cetaceans.”

The false killer whales that surrounded Captain Dave were part of a large pod of pod of 40 to 50 whales seen today. False killer whales are actually a member of the dolphin family, just like killer whales. They can reach lengths of 15 to 20 feet and weigh about 1,500 pounds. They are outgoing and can be found with other cetaceans such as bottlenose dolphins.

Southern California has the greatest density of dolphins per square mile in the world. We have mega-pods that can have up to 10,000 animals according to scientific estimates. There are over 400,000 common dolphins alone.


I worked with 5 false killer whales during my years at the Whale & Dolphin Stadium in Orlando. These Pseudorca were captured in Japanese drive fisheries. I recently was provided paperwork evidence for Teri’s capture/transfer to SeaWorld. He was collected in Taiji on 21 February 1983 and routed via Kamogawa Sea World in Japan, to SeaWorld in California. While I don’t have the paperwork on all 5 that I worked with (Teri, Suki, Hana, Zori, Yaki), Teri and Suki are confirmed from Taiji, and the others are suspected from Taiji, although there is more than one drive fishery for small cetaceans in Japan. While not ground-breaking, it does provide evidence of a direct link between SeaWorld, Taiji, and Kamogawa Sea World. The whale on the right is Hana. She is/was so cute. All five of the pseudorca died young in captivity. In general, the trainers did not know of the brutal collection history of these whales while working at SeaWorld in Orlando. That information was kept from us or was warped to make it seem like SeaWorld saved the animals. The reality is that SeaWorld created the demand which grew the drive fisheries & the industry world wide.  JV 


Video by The Divine Dolphin. In the video description they note:

Please note, and this is very important, we do not condone getting into the water with dolphins or whales unless there is a very obvious invitation. It is not okay to disrupt feeding and resting behaviors. If you think that dolphins and whales want to swim with you, wait until they have passed by, THEN get into the water. If they turn around to interact with you, you’ve got a mutual party! Never chase, harass, or otherwise molest dolphins and whales, or any wildlife for that matter. Be sure you know what you are doing and are respecting their natural behaviors. Yes, they want to interact with us, but let’s do it on THEIR terms since we are entering THEIR home.

I will neither condone nor not condone swimming with wild cetaceans. I think it is situation dependent, and remember, in many places it is illegal. This video occurred 20 miles off the coast of Costa Rica.


More explosive paperwork regarding SeaWorld’s acquisition of the Pseudorca Crassidens Teri and Suki, from Taiji, as described in my previous post. This includes a description of Don Goldsberry as SeaWorld’s “Corporate Director of Collecting” with 26 years of experience. It also shows transport units and contains another letter from Sea World Kamogawa, in Japan. This facility is where Teri and Suki were routed through on their way to SeaWorld in the United States. They spent time at Kamogawa after being corralled up onto the beach in Taiji.  Please note the closing of the letter, “Yours Faithfully.” 


I went through the photos from the False Killer Whale sighting (back in March), dug up the raw files and did some touch ups. I’ve looked at that batch of photos so often that I think I’ll be able to recognize individual whales if I ever see them again. This particular pod is known to venture into Orange County, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara waters in the spring time. 

I love these guys so much!!