Tour company encounters false killer whales off Oahu

False killer whales (Photo: Wild Side Specialty Tours)

A tour group experienced a rare sighting off West Oahu this weekend when it ran into a pod of false killer whales.

Elizabeth Hartford of Wild Side Specialty Tours said it happened off Keawaula, or Yokohama Beach, in West Oahu.

Hartford said they spotted one in about a thousand feet of water.

“They weren’t really friendly at first, but then we had seen some movement a little further out in deeper water, so about 1,500 feet, we came across these two and they were quite interested in the boat and stayed with us and tried to eat my GoPro,” she said. “This is probably one of the closet encounters I’ve had with them, and it was pretty exhilarating for me and everyone on board as well.”

Hartford identified the two as a mother and her calf.

False killer whales are not whales. They actually belong to the dolphin family and are considered endangered with only 200 remaining in Hawaiian waters.

“They’re an insular pod. This means they live only in the waters surrounding our islands. They don’t leave,” Hartford said. “Because of their isolation, they have become their own distinct population.”

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