Length

up to 18 ft (Males) and 12 ft (Females)

Weight

Between 2,200 – 6,600 pounds

Population

The short finned pilot whale population is around 31,300. 

Distribution

This species can be found globally in both temperate and tropical waters. They have been primarily found in a few areas along the east and west coast of the US, as well as around the Hawaiian Islands. Some populations have been found to stay in warmer waters near the coast while others stray to deeper parts of the ocean.

Description

The short finned pilot whale is part of the oceanic dolphin family. Its scientific name is Globicephala macrorhynchus. Compared to their relative, the long finned pilot whale, they have shorter flippers that have a gentle curve on the edge. They have bulbous heads with rather stocky bodies and no prominent beak. Their black bodies (sometimes seen as a dark grey) contain a dorsal fin that is set farther forward. The short finned pilot whales teeth consist of 14-18 on each jaw.

Differing from other whale species, the pilot whale diet is mainly squid, with a small amount of fish. While the males have been found to be polygynous, this species has been found to be slow to reproduce. These are highly social whales, rarely ever found to be alone. They travel in pods of around 10-30 whales, primarily all female. Females are very maternal and have been seen catering to calves that are not their own. An endearing characteristic of this species is their love for logging (a behavior in which they rest at the surface of the water without movement). They rarely breach but have been seen lobtailing (the motion of slapping their flukes upon the water surface) as well as poking their heads above the water, a behavior that is termed “spy-hopping.”