• false killer whale;
  • Pseudorca crassidens ;
  • bottlenose dolphin;
  • Tursiops truncatus ;
  • mixed-species groups;
  • interspecific associations;
  • photo-identification;
  • foraging;
  • seasonality;
  • New Zealand


On a global scale, false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) remain one of the lesser-known delphinids. The occurrence, site fidelity, association patterns, and presence/absence of foraging in waters off northeastern New Zealand are examined from records collected between 1995 and 2012. The species was rarely encountered; however, of the 61 distinctive, photo-identified individuals, 88.5% were resighted, with resightings up to 7 yr after initial identification, and movements as far as 650 km documented. Group sizes ranged from 20 to ca. 150. Results indicate that all individuals are linked in a single social network. Most observations were recorded in shallow (<100 m) nearshore waters. Occurrence in these continental shelf waters is likely seasonal, coinciding with the shoreward flooding of a warm current. During 91.5% of encounters, close interspecific associations with common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were observed. Photo-identification reveals repeat inter- and intraspecific associations among individuals with 34.2% of common bottlenose dolphins resighted together with false killer whales over 1,832 d. While foraging was observed during 39.5% of mixed-species encounters, results suggest that social and antipredatory factors may also play a role in the formation of these mixed-species groups.