Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melaena) - Wiki
Short-finned Pilot Whale
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[Photo] Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melaena). From the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, late 1800s. Downloaded from NOAA archive http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/historic/nmfs/figb0258.htm
The Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melaena) is one of the two species of cetacean in the genus Globicephala. They are part of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae) although their behaviour is closer to that of the larger whales.
Short-finned pilot whales can be confused with their relatives the long-finned pilot whales, but there are various differences. Their flippers are shorter than those of the long-finned pilot whale (which is where they both obviously get their name from), with a gentler curve on the edge. They have fewer teeth than long-finned pilot whales, with 14 to 18 on each jaw. Short-finned pilot whales are black or dark grey with a grey or white cape. They have grey or almost white patches on their bellies and throats and a grey or white stripe which goes diagonally upwards from behind each eye.
Adult males may have a number of scars on their bodies. Their heads are bulbous and this can become more defined in older males. Their dorsal fins vary in shape depending on how old the whale is and whether it is male or female. They have flukes with sharply pointed tips, a distinct notch in the middle and concave edges. They tend to be quite slender when they are young, becoming more stocky as they get older.
Field ID: Stocky body, Bulbous forehead , No prominent beak, Long flippers with a sharply pointed tip, Black or dark grey colour, Fin set forward on body, Tail flukes raised before deep dive, May float motionless at the surface, Frequently seen in very large groups, Prefers deep water, May be approached.
Length (metres): Adults are 3.5 - 6.5 metres in length. When they are born short-finned pilot whales are about 1.4-1.9 metres long.
Weight: At birth, short-finned pilot whales weigh about 60kg (135lb). A fully grown adult will weigh between 1 and 4 tonnes.
Diet: Fish, Squid, Octopus
Short-finned pilot whales are very sociable and are rarely seen alone. They are found in groups of 10-30, though some pods are as large as 60. They are sometimes seen logging and will allow boats to get quite close. They rarely breach, but may be seen lobtailing (slapping their flukes on the water surface) and spyhopping (poking their heads above the surface). Before diving, they arch their tails and raise them above the surface. When coming to the surface to breath, adults tend to show only the top of their head, whereas calves will throw their entire head out of the water. Adults occasionally porpoise (lift most of the body out of the water) when swimming particularly quickly.
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