Pilot whale

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Pilot whale
Short-finned pilot whale
Globicephala macrorhynchus
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Mammalia
Sub-class Theriiformes
Infra-class Holotheria
Order Information
Superorder Preptotheria
Order Cetacea
Sub-order Odontoceti
Family Information
Superfamily Delphinoidea
Family Delphinidae
Sub-family Globicephalinae
Genus Information
Genus Globicephala
Species Information
Species G. melas
G. macrorhynchus
Population statistics

Pilot whale or blackfish refers to two species of toothed whale of the family Delphinidae, and found in the deep ocean world-wide.


The pilot whale is the second-largest of the Delphinidae, with a length of 18 to 23 feet, and weigh 2,866 to 7,054 pounds. Females are slightly smaller than males, and between species, the long-fin pilot whale is slightly smaller than the short-fin, of which each species takes its name from the size of the fins. They are dark-gray to completely black in color, with some animals possessing a slightly-lighter gray saddle behind the dorsal fin and underneath just behind the chin. The dorsal fin is located rather forward on the back and is hooked towards the rear. The body is elongated but robust and narrows considerably near the tail.


Pilot whales prefer the open sea and are rarely found near the coast, the short-finned pilot whale preferring tropical and subtropical seas, while the long-finned pilot whale is more common in temperate and cold regions. Both species are often seen together where their ranges overlap.

Pilot whales sleep during the day and forage at night. Dives are 5 to 10 minutes long, reaching depths of up to 1,200 feet. Their diet consists mainly of cephalopods, but to a small extent they also prey on fish. These animals live in pods of an average of 20 animals, with some pods exceeding 100. An unproven belief that a pod follows a single leader led to the name "pilot whale" being given to them.

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