The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALE Globicephala melas

LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALE Globicephala melas

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Pilot whales are named thus because it was believed that there was a 'pilot' individual who led the group or pod. Sometimes they are called 'pothead whales' because the shape of their black heads reminded whalers of black cooking pots. In the Falklands they are called 'Blackfish'. Long-finned Pilot whales are worldwide in coastal and oceanic waters.

They have a bulbous melon face with an indistinct beak, are black or very dark greyish black. Some large individuals have a lighter grey saddle behind the dorsal fin. The fin is positioned well forward on the back. Flippers are long and tapered. They have a characteristic whitish-grey bib mark under their chin which narrows into a streak along the belly.

Males grow to 6.3m (21ft) and females 4.7m (15.5ft). Young are up to 2m long when they are born after about a year’s gestation. Males live up to 45 years and females 60 years.

Long-finned Pilot whales are the most common whales involved in mass strandings. The Falkland Islands have had many over the years. It is a mystery why they do this.

The Falkland Islands Marine Mammals Ordinance 1992 protects all marine mammals in all waters, from the coast to the edge of the economic exclusion zone.





Sources include: Sea Mammals of the World-Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Steware, Phillip J Clapham, James A Powell,Falkland Islands State of the Environment Report 2008 Otley H, Munro G, Clausen A, Ingham B. Wikipedia, Falklands Conservation, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of The Falkland Islands and South Georgia - Ian J Strange
Photographic credits: Andrew Sutton/
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