IKAN Guide to Whales

Short-Finned Pilot Whale - Globicephala macrorhynchus

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The adult can vary at any length between 3.6 -6.5 meters and weigh between 1-4 tonnes and newborn calves can measure between 1.4 - 1.9 meters.

These whales are distributed on a worldwide basis and can be found in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate oceans inhabiting both offshore and inshore areas. Their diet mainly consists of fish, squid and/or octopus. They belong to the Delphindae family and can be divided into 2 distinct populations off Japan consisting of the northern form (Tappanaga) and the southern form (Magondo). The Short-Finned pilot whale can form pod sizes of anywhere between 10 and 50 individuals.

The structure of their groups tends to be matriarchal, not unlike elephants, and swim in formation usually abreast. They also can peacefully co-exist with other small cetaceans within their habitat such as bottlenose dolphins. These whales are very active and often engage in rolling, lobtailing and sometimes spyhopping.

Unfortunatly due to their tight large groups they are also susceptible to mass stranding. Many also fall victim to hunting around Japan, which caused serious depletion of the two populations, Tappanaga and Magondo, both of which are now listed by the Fisheries agency as 'rare'.