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Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas)

Diputación de Málaga
Calderón común (Globicephala melas)

Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas)

Reproduction Zeal Topping Hibernation
Animal Life > Mammals


Although its size and nickname of pilot whale can generate some confusion, it is a dolphin species. They are easy to recognize due to their characteristic round head, without nose, their large size and their black colour. Biggest specimens can be more than 6 m long and reach about 3 tons in weight.

Where does it live?

This species is distributed throughout most of the temperate and subarctic seas and oceans of the world. Its habitat is variable, so there are groups living near the coast, while others seem to prefer open water.

How does it live?

They are very social and curious animals living in family groups, some very numerous, nearly hundreds of specimens.

They are carnivorous animals, with an appetite for molluscs and fish such as squid, mackerel, herring or turbot. Each adult needs more than 30 kg of food per day.

Gestation lasts about a year, being born a calf that will be lactating until reaching two years old.

Where can we see it in the Malaga province?

Standings of the species in different points of the coast indicate that there are groups that move frequently through the Málaga waters, however there is no known group that inhabits permanently. Therefore, the sighting of live specimens and the finding of beached pilot whales will be punctual and sporadic.

Curious facts

They are called "pilot whales". Whale, because of its size, relatively large, and its flat head that can vaguely resemble a sperm whale. Pilot because the groups are usually led by an adult male which is the one that guides the group. This absolute trust in the group leader is thought to be one of the reasons why massive strandings of this species are relatively frequent. If the guide becomes ill or disoriented, swimming towards the shore, the whole group will follow him, ignoring the risk of beaching.

Similar species

In our waters there is another species of pilot whale, very rare, known as Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus). They are easy to distinguish because they are smaller, grey and have skin covered with marks and scratches caused by rubbing with other specimens.

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