We didn't realise how much false killer whales look like Super Mario's "Chain Chomp" until this moment:  


This amazing, rare footage was shot by the crew of Wild Side Specialty Tours (WSST) off the coast of West Oahu in Hawaii. Like their larger namesakes, false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are part of the dolphin family, but unlike orcas, most people have never heard of them. 

"We came across these two and they were quite interested in the boat and stayed with us and tried to eat my GoPro," staff member Elizabeth Hartford told KHON. "This is probably one of the closet encounters I’ve had with them, and it was pretty exhilarating for me and everyone on board."

The whales in the video are a mom-and-calf pair that's become well known in the area for following boat wakes. Having been MIA since early July, this clip marks the sixth time the two have been seen this year. 

False killer whales typically have only one calf every six to seven years, and they don't reach sexual maturity until 12 years of age. This makes them particularly susceptible to pressure from human activities, but because they spend most of their lives in deep water, little is known about their global strongholds. 

It's estimated that 150 of the toothy whales cruise around the Hawaiian islands, where they mostly feed on mahi mahi and tuna – but on occasion, these small cetaceans have even been known to attack humpback and sperm whales! Because the Hawaiian population doesn't migrate elsewhere in the Pacific, they are considered genetically distinct and are protected under the US Endangered Species Act. 

Some commenters have asked WSST why they didn't cut the motor when the whales came near the boat, but the team explains that the whales were simply pacing them, and didn't linger. "Because the animals were moving, we were paralleling them. If they had stopped, we would’ve stopped. [We always strive] to make sure we keep low impact to minimise the change of their natural behaviour."

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Top header image: Wild Side Specialty Tours/Screengrab from YouTube