The webpage text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4. Toggle navigation. WoRMS taxon details. Globicephala macrorhynchus Gray, Globicephala Lesson, Synonymised names.
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Pilot whales are actually two species: Globicephala melas Traill, , long-finned and Globicephala macrorhynchus Gray, , short-finned , and are large dolphin species second only to orca killer whales in size. Adult males measure up to 6. Adult females measure up to 4.
They have a round head with a small beak and dolphin-typical up-curved mouthline. The rounded head of males protrudes over the lower jaw. Pilot whales are dark gray to black in color with a lighter colored patch on the ventral surface, and Globicephala macrorhynchus short-finned pilot whales may also have a faint patch behind the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin is curved with a long base, and the flippers are also curved—short in Globicephala macrorhynchus and significantly longer in Globicephala melas long-finned.
Pilot whales are often found in captivity. They have been trained by the US Navy to locate military equipment from deep ocean depths for retrieval. The pilot whale is a gregarious species often found in groups of , in which there are often small families of females and their calves.
Although males are found in these groups as well, they are not necessarily fathers of the calves. Pilot whales are often associated with mass strandings of several hundred animals. The cause of the mass strandings is unknown, although several theories exist such as sonar problems or parasitic infections that interfere with the central nervous system causing neurological disorders. In general, pilot whales, Globicephala melas long-finned and Globicephala macrorhynchus short-finned , are found in the northern and southern hemispheres in tropical and temperate waters throughout the world.
Short-finned pilot whales tend to live in warmer waters, while long-finned pilot whales are more commonly found in more temperate waters, therefore the two sub-species tend to remain mostly segregated.
Pilot whales, Globicephala , feed on squid and other cephalopods and small fish. These dolphins have only teeth compared to in other dolphin species. Adults may consume up to 14 kg of food per day. Pilot whales have been observed hunting in groups to help concentrate their prey in the center of a pod by using their vocal communications.
Female pilot whales reach sexual maturity at about 6 years of age or when they grow to about 4 m in length. Males reach sexual maturity at 12 years of age or 4. Females give birth about every years, and gestation lasts months. Newborn calves measure 1. Females nurse their calves for about 22 months. Male pilot whales compete for females by fighting and often display aggressive behavior with females, resulting in scarred flesh and occasional infections.
Females remain fertile to 35 years old and can lactate as late as Pilot whale population numbers are unknown, however they are not considered endangered. There are an estimated 1 million long-finned pilot whales and approximately , short-finned pilot whales worldwide.
Pilot whales have been hunted for their meat, bone, oil, and for fertilizer, a practice which continues in some areas. Because they easily adapt to captivity, pilot whales are also exhibited in many aquariums and zoos. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.
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Short-finned pilot whale
The distribution shown is generalised from the Departments Species of National Environmental Significance dataset. This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. Some species information is withheld in line with sensitive species polices. See map caveat for more information.
Species Profile and Threats Database
Pilot whales are actually two species: Globicephala melas Traill, , long-finned and Globicephala macrorhynchus Gray, , short-finned , and are large dolphin species second only to orca killer whales in size. Adult males measure up to 6. Adult females measure up to 4. They have a round head with a small beak and dolphin-typical up-curved mouthline.
Short-finned pilot whales are native to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. They prefer tropical and sub-tropical waters and do not linger in areas of colder water such as the Arctic Ocean. In the Atlantic Ocean, they are found as far north as the Madeira Island and the Strait of Gibraltar, which corresponds to an upper limit of 50 degrees North latitude, and a lower limit of 40 degrees South latitude. Short-finned pilot whales are found in deep open waters near continental shelves, as well as in coastal areas. They follow schools of cephalopds Cephalopoda and linger in areas with quality habitat for their prey.