Long-finned pilot whale
Due to their strong family ties, long-finned pilot whales often strand themselves in large numbers. When one animal strands the rest of the pod follows.
Males: 45-50 years, Females: 55-60 years.
Body Length: Males: 4-6.5m, Females: 3-5.5m. Weight: 1.8-3.5 tonnes.
Long-finned pilot whales are black with a pale anchor-shaped pattern on the throat and belly, and long flippers (15-30 per cent of the body length). They have a bulbous forehead, and low, swept-back dorsal fin.
Pilot whales are limited to the cooler parts of the globe. The northern and southern populations are separated by a band of warm tropical water so they can not meet.
Long-finned pilot whales feed on squid, whiting and mackerel.
Long-finned pilot whales tend to live in matrilineal groups of up to 6, although they can form larger groups. Females stay in the pod they were born in, for all their lives. They can dive to depths of 600m.
This species is not listed by the 2000 IUCN Red List. Global threats include hunting, human disturbance, habitat loss, prey depletion, pollution, entanglement in nets and collisions with vessels. Long-finned pilot whales and other cetaceans are driven ashore and slaughtered each year in the Faroe Islands, with an annual average take of 850. Tests have shown that their meat contains very high levels of toxins, including mercury and cadmium. Exposure to these contaminants is causing health problems, especially in Faroese children who regularly consume whalemeat. The average annual consummation of meat and blubber in the Faroe Islands was 9.6kg per person.
Pilot whales belong to a group of cetaceans known as the 'blackfish', which are actually dolphins. This group includes orcas and melon-headed whales.