The Whales

pilot whale

The pilot whale, like the orca, is a member of the dolphin family.  It does well in captivity, and is easily trained, displaying intelligence equal to that of a bottlenose dolphin. 

It has a distinctive rounded head with a very slight beak and an upturned mouth line.  Males are much larger than females. 

Adult males measure up to 20 feet (6.2 meters) long and weigh 6,000 lbs (1,725 kg).  Adult females measure 16 feet (4.9 meters) long and weigh 3,000 lbs (1360 kg).

The pilot whale feeds primarily on squid, although it’s known to eat octopus, cuttlefish, herring and other fish when squid is not available.  It has 40 to 48 teeth and eats up to 30 lbs (13.6 kg) a day.

Pilot Whale 

11" Long x 3.5" High
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Pods have been observed entering a bay in line, slowly closing the line into a circle, and trapping prey in the center.  Powerful high-pitched whistles appear to be involved in coordinating this kind of activity. 

Pilot whales are very social, and are most often found in groups of 20 to 90.  Partly because of their social nature, pilot whales are often involved in a mass stranding of as many as several hundred.  Science is unsure of the cause of such beaching but suspect miss-navigation or parasitic infections. 

Figures for pilot whales are thought to be about a million of the long-finned variety, which inhabit cold and temperate waters of both hemispheres.  This is in spite of the fact that tens of thousands were taken in “drive fisheries” across the world where groups were herded to the beach for slaughter, taking advantage of their social nature.




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