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Long-finned Pilot Whale [1]
Size comparison against an average human
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae
Genus: Globicephala
Species: G. melas
Binomial name
Globicephala melas
Traill, 1809
Range map
Synonyms

Globicephala melaena

The Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) is one of the two species of cetacean in the genus Globicephala. It belongs to the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae), though its behaviour is closer to that of the larger whales.

Like the orca, the Long-finned Pilot Whale is really a dolphin. It is jet black or dark grey with a grey or white diagonal stripe behind each eye, and a large, round forehead (melon). It is sometimes known as the pothead whale because the shape of its head reminded early whalers of black cooking pots.

Field ID: Stocky body, bulbous melon, single blowhole, long black flippers, black or dark grey colour, backward-leaning fin, fin set forward on body, frequently lobtails and spyhops, prefers deep water.

Length (metres): Male: 4 - 7.6m. Female: 3 - 5.6m. Newborn: 1.8 - 2m.

Weight: Adult: 1.8 - 3.5 tonnes. Birthweight: 75kg.

Diet: Squid and sometimes fish

Behaviour

They are very social, family animals and may travel in groups of up to a hundred, with one animal acting as leader. Long-finned Pilot Whales often strand themselves on beaches - because they have strong family bonds, when one animal strands, the rest of the pod tends to follow. They are very active and can often be seen lobtailing and spyhopping. The younger ones also breach, but this is rare in adults. Pilot whales generally take several breaths before diving for a few minutes. Feeding dives, when they are looking for squid or fish, may last over ten minutes. They are capable of diving to depths of 600 meters, but most dives are to a depth of 30-60 meters.

References

  1. ^ Mead, James G. and Robert L. Brownell, Jr (November 16, 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds). ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 723–743. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14300052.  
  2. ^ Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman, R.L. (2008). Globicephala melas. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 26 February 2009.
  • WDCS (Danish)

External links

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