Long - Finned Pilot Whales

(Globiceephala Melas)

Occasional visitors to the Channel Island Waters, Pilot Whales can be inquisitive but are not a true "bowrider" often being indifferent to boats. Like Orca's, Pilot Whales are members of the dolphin family (delphinidae). Pilot whales are jet black or dark grey in colour. They have a grey saddle behind the distinctive broad based dorsal fin (although this is not always apparent) . Their bodies are stocky and long, reaching up to 2 tonnes in weight and have a distinctive rounded bulbous forehead (melon). Their flippers are exceptionally long and pointed back at a sharp angle and can measure up to 27% of the total body length . There is a white band on the underside from flippers to the genital slit. The dorsal fin set forward of the centre point of the whale.

Pilot whales are capable of diving upto 600 metres (1,965ft) but most dives are 30-60 metres (100 - 195ft). Dives can last 10 minutes or more.

Pilot Whales often stay together in close - knit groups. Female Pilot Whales mature at 6 years of age and a length of about 3.5 m. Males mature much later when 12 years old and 5 meters in length. Females give birth to single calves. The pregnancy last for 16 months and the calves are weaned at 20 months of age. Calves weigh just over 200lbs at birth. Females do not give birth after the age of 35 years but have been known to suckle infants until the age of 49 years.

 

 

As many as 20 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) were reported off Fermain on Guernsey's south-east coast which included juveniles. Majority of them were approx 18 ft in length. The pilot whales rested motionless at times and then dived down for a period of time. Although they werent feeding, their usual diet includes cephalopods, including squid. There was also a smaller group that was observed off St Martins Point, approx 6 pilot whales with some dolphins. They are normally seen in July/August/September possibly on migration. Pilot whales prefer deeper waters but have been observed in shallower inshore waters from time to time.

 

 

 

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C. Medder1990/2015