Further names: Portuguese: Baleia-piloto
Size of adults: 4 – 6 m
Prey: Mainly squid and occasionally smaller fish.
Behaviour: Very calm and gentle cetaceans. Occasionally approach our boats or curiously spy-hop at the surface. Often encountered resting for long periods at the surface between their dives, a behaviour commonly referred to as “logging”.
Range: Global distribution in temperate to tropical regions with a preference for deeper water. The long-finned pilot whale inhabits the temperate to subpolar waters of the Southern hemisphere and the Northern Atlantic.
Madeira: Frequently encountered, occur all year round.
Distinctive features: Dolphins with a round, globe-like forehead and no beak. Their sturdy, elongated body ranges in colour from dark-grey to jet-black. A paler heart-shaped marking can be seen in the chest area. The species has short, pointed flippers and a sickle-shaped dorsal fin with a wide base leaning towards the tail and positioned relatively close to the head. Very similar appearance to the long-finned pilot whale, that however inhabits colder regions and has longer flippers, extending over half their body length. Both species have a powerful blow which is easily visible with calm seas.
Taxonomy: Suborder: Odontoceti (Toothed whales), Family: Delphinidae (Dolphins)
Threats: They were hunted for centuries in the North-Western Pacific and are still killed in Japan and the Faroe Islands.