While traveling with Wild Side Tours off the coast of Oahu, Elizabeth Hartford captured this incredible footage of a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) mother swimming along with her calf. This is a rare sighting, as these beautiful creatures are endangered and have seen a dramatic drop in numbers over the last 20 years, especially in Hawaii.
What makes the footage even more unique is the fact that one of the whales seems to notice she’s being filmed, and even flashes a smile. The reality of the situation is that the whale is not actually smiling for the camera. Instead, she probably mistakes it for food and is preparing to chow down.
False killer whales—which are actually members of the dolphin family—earn their name from the similar appearance they share with orcas. They are very social animals, and can often be seen in pods of up to 20 members. They are fond of tropical and temperate waters, which extends their habitat range right across the globe—probably another contributing factor to why sightings of these creatures are so rare.