Subject: Pilot Whales

Patrick Miller (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 12:06:40 -0500

>I was interested in some information on Pilot Whales. I'm doing a report
>for school (I'm in eighth grade) on them. I'm looking on information on
>their habitat and special defining characterstics, interesting tid bits
>etc., If you could provide some that would be great! :)

>I would also like to know if they really are the second largest dolphin
>(exceeded only by Orcas) I heard that but...wasn't absolutely sure...



Dear JK,

There are two species of pilot whales: long-finned pilot whales
and short-finned pilot whales. Long finned-pilot whales are
found in the cooler waters of the North Atlantic and southern
hemisphere. Short-finned pilot whales prefer warmer waters,
found in warm southern and tropical oceans. They can be hard
to tell apart when seen in the wild; although you can guess
because their ranges seldom overlap. Both species inhabit near-
shore as well as offshore waters, and both prey on squid. Pilot
whales are very social animals, and sometimes form groups as
large as several hundred animals; long-finned pilot whales have
been seen in groups of over 1000 animals. Often these groups
also include other species of dolphin. Pilot whales are dark
gray to black, with light markings along the undersides and
sometimes behind their eye and dorsal fin. Long-finned pilot
whales have flippers which are at least 1/5 of their body
length, whereas short-finned pilot whales have shorter fins,
rarely longer than 1/6 of their body length. Long-finned pilot
whales are also slightly bigger than short-finned pilot whales,
with males reaching up to 6 m in length (male short-finned
pilot whales rarely get much larger than 5 m in length). Females
are shorter than males in both species.
        Long-finned pilot whales are, like you suspected, the
2nd largest dolphin after killer whales, although false killer
whales are generally a bit longer than short-finned pilot whales.
(In some areas, male false killer whales can reach 6 m in length,
but they are usually smaller).

				yours in whale research,