Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pilot Whales, facts and photos

blackfish or pothead either of two species of small, slender toothed whales with a round, bulging forehead, a short beak-like snout, and slender, pointed flippers. Pilot whales are about 4–6 metres (13–20 feet) long and are found in all the oceans of the world except the Arctic.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Globicephala melas -- From the Latin globus (globe, ball) and the Greek kephale (head) and melanus (black).

COMMON NAME: Pilot Whale

DISCOVERED: Lesson, 1828


* Bulbous forehead (exaggerated in adult males)
* Slate gray-black body with light markings on throat and belly
* Short, imperceptible beak
* Prominent, falcate dorsal fin
* Elongated wedge shaped body
* Long, sickle-shaped flippers
* Size: 6.2 m, 3 tons (male); 5.4 m, 2-2.5 tons (female)


* Discontinous distribution with tropical waters separating the Southern hemisphere population from that of the northern North Atlantic
* Temperate to subpolar distribution in all oceans except North Pacific
* Abundant in North Atlantic and Southern hemisphere
* Seasonal variation in migration patterns-some spend entire year offshore



* Cold temperate and subpolar waters
* Found both inshore and offshore


* Squid, octopus, cod and other fish


* Life Span: 40-50 years
* Peak seasons for mating: spring/early summer
* Calves are born in late summer after 16 month gestation period
* Calving interval: 3 years
* Nursing lasts 20 months
* Sexual maturity at 12 years (male) and 6 years (female)


* Travel in small groups of 4-6 individuals
* At times hundreds up to thousands may gather
* Tight groups while on move, loose when feeding
* Methodical and unexpressive at surface (appear to be at "rest")
* Sometimes hang vertically spyhopping or pitch-poling
* Lobtailing is common
* Do not ride bow waves
* Tend to strand at times
* Not particularly friendly
* Deathly afraid of killer whales and will breach themselves to try to avoid avoid them

PILOT WHALE SONGS: The following .au file is a sample the song of the Pilot Whale.

* Clicks [34k .au file]