Short-Finned Pilot Whale – Globicephala macrorhynchus

Short-Finned Pilot Whale species dolphins Canary Islands Globicephala macrorhynchus Tenerife whale watching Gran Canaria Fuerteventura Lanzarote La Palma Gomera El Hierro atlantic ocean
Short-Finned Pilot Whale – Globicephala macrorhynchus

The Short-Finned Pilot Whale, also known as the Indian Pilot Whale, belongs to the family of dolphins (Delphinidae) and is therefore part of the infraorder of whales (Cetaceans). Globicephala macrorhynchus was first described by Gray in 1846.

Description, Anatomy & Characteristics

The Short-Finned Pilot Whale has a dark-grey to black colouring. Several light grey patterns are distributed over the body, which differ from animal to animal. A stripe runs from behind the eye towards the fin. Globicephala macrorhynchus also has a W-shaped spot on the neck and a grey or white belly patch. Behind the fin it can also be white or greyish.

Especially striking is the spherical head, which is more pronounced in males.

In addition, the flippers of the Indian pilot whale are slender and short.

It grows up to 7.2m long and weighs a maximum of 4t. Males are slightly larger than females.

Habitat, Distribution & Occurrence

The Short-Finned Pilot Whale occurs between 50° north and 40° south latitude. The Mediterranean Sea is an exception. It prefers tropical and subtropical seas and oceans.

Short-Finned Pilot Whale Globicephala macrorhynchus Map Distribution
Map with the distribution area of the Indian Pilot Whale.
By User:Pcb21, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

When diving in the Canary Islands it is extremely unlikely to encounter it, as Globicephala macrorhynchus is mostly found in deep waters. But on whale watching tours you can observe it from time to time.

Biology & Feeding

The Indian Pilot Whale is a social animal that usually travels in groups of 10 to 30 animals. However, with certain food offers one can observe also several hundred of them. They can also be seen in the presence of other dolphins or whales.

The diet of Globicephala macrorhynchus consists mainly of cephalopods, which they often hunt at night. They dive for an average of 10 minutes and reach depths of 900m. The maximum measured duration of a dive is 27 minutes.

Sources & Links

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