Long-Finned Pilot Whale
Whale Watching South Africa

Name : Long-Finned Pilot Whale
Scientific Name : Globicephala melaena
Class : Mammalia
Family : Delphinidae
Order : Cetacea suborder - Odontoceti
Shape : The body of the Long-Finned Pilot Whale is long and sturdy, with a front that is more massive than the back. The peduncle is laterally compressed. A rounded frontal prominence dominated this animal's cephalic area and grows with age. Newborns do not have teeth, which appears when the dolphin reaches 2.13 m and stop growing when it reaches 2.70 m. Adults have 8 to 10 big cone-shaped teeth approximately 5 cm on each side of both jaws.
Fins : The dorsal fin is rather low and extended (it is twice as long as it is high); it is falcate and placed a little ahead of the midpoint on the back (variable). The flippers are up towards the front of the body; they are falcate and quite long. The flukes have a median notch.
Length : The male measures between 6 - 8.50 metres and the female between 5 - 6 metres. Newborns measure 1.70 - 1.80 metres.
Weight : Males can weigh more than 4 metric tons and females more than 2 metric tons.
Colour : This animal is generally black, with a dark grey mark on its back behind the dorsal fin and a small mark of the same colour behind each ear. 'W'- shaped greyish- white patch on throat.
Diet : It varies from one place to the next, depending on the prey's seasonal availability. When octopus is rare, it eats, among other fish, herring and mullets. It eats between 14 - 35 kg of food per day.
Population : It is a common species in the northern Atlantic, although its population has clearly diminished due to hunting, especially off the Faeroe Islands.
Migration : This dolphin apparently migrates seasonally, due to water temperatures and probably also prey availability.

Habits : The Long-finned Pilot Whale remains at the surface for a number of minutes and breathes every one to two minutes. Before sounding, it arches its back and shows its tail. This whale usually dives 30 to 60 metres deep in search of food. It moves in groups of 10 to 100. It is one of the most commonly mass-stranded whales. It emits all sorts of sounds, and are used to communicate or used for echolocation.
Distribution : In the Northern Hemisphere, this dolphin lives on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is only found in cold and temperate waters.

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