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Keywords:

  • false killer whales;
  • Pseudorca crassidens ;
  • age;
  • growth;
  • reproduction;
  • North Pacific;
  • South Atlantic

Abstract

Age and reproductive information for 65 false killer whales stranded in South Africa in 1981 are compared with similar material from 156 animals examined from drive fisheries in Japan in 1979 and 1980. Sizes at birth, sexual maturation, and physical maturity all indicated that both sexes were 10%–20% larger in Japan than South Africa. Females reached sexual maturation at similar ages (8–10.5 yr) in both populations, and although sample sizes were too small to establish male ages at puberty precisely the ranges in Japan (10.5–18.5 yr) and South Africa (5.25–17.5 yr) were not inconsistent. The initial ovulation rate for females from South Africa was 65% lower (and the apparent pregnancy rate 82% lower) than those from Japan and there were fewer animals ≤2 yr old within the school, but the magnitude of these differences suggests that the stranded school's reproductive performance was probably impaired. Collectively these comparisons and the literature indicate substantive size differences between false killer whales in different populations, although the patterns of growth appear similar. Firm conclusions about any geographical differences in reproduction require additional data.