Marine Mammal Science & Conservation

Long-finned Pilot whale

Long-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melas)

Group formation: Matrifocal groups (5-15) several matrilineal groups (size 50-200)

Size: males 7.8 m, females 5.8 m, calf 1.8 m

Weight: males 2.3 t, females 1.3 t, calf 100 kg

Age: males 40 yrs, females 60 yrs

Sexual maturity: males 12-15 yrs, females 6-15 yrs

Gestation: 12-15 mths, 3-5 yrs in between births

Weaning: 27 months or longer (up to 10 years)

Diet: squid (cephalopods) and some fish

Distribution: Two sub-species: North Atlantic (Globicephala melas melas) widespread to at least 68° N, and the Southern Hemisphere (Globicephala melas edwardii) from 19–60° S. They do not share the warmer waters with short-finned pilot whales.

Norway: all along the Norwegian coast, seen regularly inside the Vestfjord. High peak season from May-September for group gatherings, breeding and feeding.

Conservation Status: Data Deficient ver 3.1, Pop. trend: unknown

Threats: whaling (Faeroe Islands, Japan, Greenland), plastic and chemical pollution, man-made noise impacts (seismic surveys, military sonar), entanglement in fishing gear, over fishing, captivity.

Here are videos from pilot whales taken in the Vestfjord during our research trips:

Seismic surveys used to find oil, gas and deep sea minerals are one of the biggest problems in the sea nowadays, especially the coats of Norway is full of such surveys during the summer months when most whales migrate, feed and breed there! These extremely loud sounds (SL 260dB) can killer marine mammals directly or scare them away on longer distances, these signals can be heard over 3000km away!

This video demonstrates seismic surveys 300-500km away and pilot whales in the Vestfjord: