False killer whales are here again!

It was a perfect day in Maui Nui today! Clear skies, no wind, calm waters, and false killer whales encounter... this time I got to see them! Awesome!!!!!!

Ocean Spirit departed from Maalaea harbor and headed north toward Olowalu, we were just passing by McGregor point, when Captain Erik sighted some splashes on the water, he thought was a calf, but suddenly we started see dorsal fins coming out of the water all around the boat, and right away he shouted: \"False killers whales, they are false killer whales!\" what a great surprise! I was very thrilled, it was my first encounter with these rare and very special Hawaiian animals.

False killer whales normally inhabit open and warm waters around the world, but the ones we see close to shore around the main Hawaiian islands are very special animals. They are a small genetically isolate population, and the only known island resident population in the world. Unfortunately , this population has been declining most likely due to human causes especially bycatch in fishing gear; and they are at high risk of extinction... but thanks to all the awareness raised about this conservation issue, National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to list them as \"endangered\".

For me this encounter is extra special, because I am in charge of Pacific Whale Foundation false killer whales photo-identification catalog and it's very exciting to go through the photographs I took from this encounter and recognize some individuals from our current catalog. Photo-identification is a non-invasive method that allows the recognition of individual animals over time. In odontocetes (toothed whales), photographs are focused on pattern and notches on the dorsal fin. This method assists mark-recapture technique, which is used to estimate population size. PWF current false killer whales catalog has 53 identified individuals and I hope to add new individuals to our catalog after the new photos are entered and analyzed.

Mahalo nui loa to Captain Erik, Drew, Ashley, and Dannah from Ocean Spirit for the awesome \"false killer whale watching\"!

Itana

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