Operation Ferocious Isles

the pilot whale

  • Classification
  • Pilot whales belong to the order "cetacea" but to the family "delphinidae." They are the second largest dolphin after the orca, more commonly called the "killer whale."
  • CLASS: Mammalia
    ORDER: Cetacea
    SUBORDER: Odontoceti
    FAMILY: Delphinidae
    GENUS: Globicephala
    SPECIES: melaena (long-finned)
    macrorhynchus (short-finned)
  • Schools
    • The long-finned pilot whale generally travels in large schools containing hundreds of cetaceans.
    • Schools are built up of small, close-knit matriarchal groups of 10-20 spread over large expanses.
    • The large schools are extremely socially cohesive as mass strandings of several hundred pilot whales are not uncommon.
  • Name
    • The pilot whale received its name due to a belief that the pod always follows a single leader, which although not scientifically proven, is commonly believed to be the reason for these tragic strandings.
  • Reproduction
    • Long-finned pilot whales calve between April and September.
    • The Faeroese grind generally takes place in July/August, in the midst of calving season. Pilot whale females can be pregnant even when they’re fifty-five years old!
  • Feeding
    • The pilot whales’ diet consists largely of squid and mackerel.
    • The pilot whale can dive as deep as 500 meters when hunting for food.

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