Home / Blog / Short-finned pilot whales

September 20, 2014

Short-finned pilot whales

BY: Oceana Web


© OCEANA / Enrique Talledo


The short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) finds its northern limit of distribution in the Canary Islands. This is one of the few places where its habitat overlaps with that of its close relative, the long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas). They are social animals that travel in pods, looking for food and warm temperate waters without specific migration routes. Adults are about 6.5 meters in length and prefer the continental shelf waters and deep canyons.

During these two long days sailing between the seamounts at the north of the Canary Islands and the island of El Hierro (about 270 nm), we witnessed several sightings of cetaceans (goose-beaked whales, bottlenose dolphins, common rorqual, etc.) and loggerhead turtles. But undoubtedly the most spectacular of all were two pods of short-finned pilot whales we had the opportunity to observe close to the coast of Tenerife. They were so close we had the chance to see in detail some characteristic features of the species like the patches and scars on their backs and their bulbous foreheads. The sighting lasted a long time, apparently they didn´t feel threatened by the Ranger as even their offspring unabashedly approached the boat.