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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 60 years (captivity) Observations: Maximum longevity has been estimated to be around 60 years, which is plausible. Males appear to be longer-lived than females and attain sexual maturity at later ages (Ronald Nowak 1999). Pregnant females have been reported up to 55 years of age. The MRDT was calculated to be about 10 and the IMR 0.015 for females (Foote 2008). One wild born specimen was still alive in captivity at 37.8 years of age (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Untitled

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Long-finned pilot whales are one of two species in the genus Globicephala, the other being short-finned pilot whales, Globicephala macrohynchus.

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Behavior

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The dominant form of communication involves various audible whistles. Whistling remains simple during periods of rest. However, the intricacy of the whistles increases during times of excitement, as well as when the pod is in the process of killing prey. Complex whistles are also heard while the pod is eating and when traveling speeds are high. This indicates that such activities require a greater amount of coordination in the pod. Sounds are also used in echolocation, allowing these whales to orient themselves in space.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; echolocation ; chemical

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Conservation Status

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Long-finned pilot whales are considered "data deficient" by the IUCN and the taxonomy of populations worldwide is unresolved. More than one species may be represented by G. melas populations and, if so, it is likely that several of those taxonomic units would be recognized at a higher risk category. Population declines are documented in most populations. A subspecies recognized from Japanese waters became extinct by the 12th century. As a whale species, long-finned pilot whales are listed on Appendix II of CITES.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: data deficient

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Benefits

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Long-finned pilot whales sometimes become entangled in drift nets, a cost to the commercial fishing industry. However, the use of different net designs could make this more avoidable.

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Benefits

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One way in which long-finned pilot whales have a positive economic importance for humans is that it serves as a source of food for some humans. However, they are not an important source of food. Long-finned pilot whales are also maintained in captivity for human entertainment and education and are capable of learning to respond to human commands. Although the value of captive whales for education is very controversial.

Positive Impacts: food ; research and education

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Associations

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Long-finned pilot whales may influence squid and fish populations throughout their range, since those are preferred foods and these whales consume massive amounts of food every day.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • stenurosis parasite (Stenurus globicephalae)
  • vibrio bacteria (Vibrio alginolyticus)
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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Trophic Strategy

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Long-finned pilot whales are carnivorous, feeding primarily on mollusks and fish, and eating around 34 kg (75 lb) of food a day. Squid, such as Logio pealei and Illex illecebrous, are favorite foods. Fish, such as mackerel, Atlantic herring, cod, and turbot, are also popular foods. These whales are known to take advantage of the grouping effects of human commercial fishing activities as a way to easily catch prey.

Animal Foods: fish; mollusks

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Molluscivore )

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Distribution

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Globicephala melas has a disjunct, antitropical distribution in the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the globe. It is absent from equatorial regions. The northern group is distributed in the Atlantic Ocean around Greenland, Iceland, the Barents and North seas, extending south to the north-east coast of the United States and east into the Mediterranean Sea. The southern group is distributed in the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, particularly around Australia and New Zealand. Ocean currents where G. melas is found include the Benguela, Falkland, and Humboldt currents.

Biogeographic Regions: indian ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native ); mediterranean sea (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Barbara Lundrigan, Michigan State University
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Habitat

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Long-finned pilot whales prefer cooler saltwater aquatic biomes from 13 to 30 degrees Celsius. Their diving depths can vary tremendously, with a range of from 30 to 1,800 meters. They are found in both pelagic and coastal aquatic biomes.

Range depth: 1,800 to 30 m.

Habitat Regions: saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: pelagic ; coastal

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Life Expectancy

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Females live longer than males, with a maximum lifespan of 59 years. The maximum lifespan for males is 46 years.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
Male: 46 Female: 59 (high) years.

Range lifespan
Status: captivity:
60 (high) years.

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Morphology

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The most characteristic trait of long-finned pilot whales is their large, bulbous, melon-shaped head. Long-finned pilot whales are mostly black with a gray saddle patch behind their dorsal fin and an anchor-shaped mark on their ventral surface. Males can reach up to 8.5 meters, with the average length being 6 meters, and can weigh up to 3,800 kg. Females are smaller, reaching a maximum length of 6 meters, with the average length being 4.8 meters, and can weigh up to 1,800 kg. Initially, calves do not have the bulbous head. The melon grows as the calf matures.

Range mass: males: 3,800 females: 1,800 (high) kg.

Range length: males: 8.5 females: 6 (high) m.

Average length: males: 6 females: 4.8 m.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Barbara Lundrigan, Michigan State University
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Associations

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Humans are known predators of this species. Globicephala melas is hunted for its meat, especially in the Faeroe Islands.

Known Predators:

  • humans (Homo sapiens)

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Reproduction

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Mating takes place between, not within, pods. Males display an aggressive courtship behavior, including forcefully colliding melon-to-melon at a heightened speed. The mating system is polygynous.

Mating System: polygynous

Mating can occur throughout the year, but the peak of the mating season is in the spring and early summer between April and June. Females are ready to breed when they are 6 years old. Males take longer to mature, reaching sexual maturity at around 12 years of age. Gestation lasts for 16 months, and females give birth to one offspring, weighing approximately 100 kg and measuring about 1.8 meters in length. Weaning occurs between 23 and 27 months of age. There is a four year hiatus between births.

Breeding interval: Females mate every 4 years, typically.

Breeding season: Peak breeding season is in the spring and early summer between April and June.

Range number of offspring: 1 (high) .

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average gestation period: 16 months.

Range weaning age: 23 to 27 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 6 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 12 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 109667 g.

Average gestation period: 450 days.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male:
4380 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female:
2470 days.

Females are the primary caregivers for calves. Related females usually stay together and form a cohesive pod, whereas mature males travel from one pod to the next.

Parental Investment: precocial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

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Preston, J. 2011. "Globicephala melas" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Globicephala_melas.html
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Julianne Preston, Michigan State University
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Biology

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This species is exceptionally social, and typically travels in groups called 'pods' of between 10 and 50, and sometimes as many as 100 individuals (2). Their social bonds are so strong that when one individual becomes stranded, others will follow; mass strandings are therefore unusually common in this species (5). Long-finned pilot whales are highly active, they can dive for up to 10 minutes to depths of up to 600m (5).Mating occurs in February and March, after a gestation period of 15 to 16 months the female gives birth (8). The newborn calf measures around 1.9m (2), is nursed for around 20 months and remains with its mother for up to 2 years (8). Females reach sexual maturity at around 7 years of age, whereas males do not become sexually mature until 12 years of age (8).
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Conservation

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The long-finned pilot whale is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, capture or harass whales and dolphins in UK waters. As the species is listed on Annex A of EU Council Regulation 338/97, it is treated by the EU as if it is included in CITES Appendix I, so that commercial trade is prohibited (4).
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Description

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The long-finned pilot whale is not actually a whale, but a dolphin (5). Along with the related short-finned pilot whale, this species was once called a 'pothead', as the bulbous head was thought to resemble a black cooking pot by the early whalers that first encountered the species (2). The Latin name of this genus, Globicephala, meaning 'globe head' also refers to the shape of the head (6). The stocky body is black or dark grey in colour with a white stripe passing diagonally behind the eye (5), a greyish area on the belly, and an anchor-shaped grey patch on the chin (7). As the common name of this species suggests, the sickle-shaped (7) pectoral fins (flippers) are very long, there is a single blowhole, and the dorsal fin is placed forwards on the body (5). The range of this species and the short-finned pilot whale overlap in some areas, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between the two, particularly as it is often difficult to see the flippers (2).
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Habitat

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Seems to prefer deep water (5). Some populations always remain offshore, whereas others move into inshore waters in pursuit of squid (5).
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Range

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Found in cold temperate to sub-polar waters of both hemispheres (2), including UK waters (5), but has become extinct in the North Pacific (2). It seasonally enters coastal areas around northern Scotland, western Ireland and the south-west English Channel Approaches (4), with sightings in northern Britain concentrated between June and September, and between November and January further to the south (4).
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Status

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Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1). Listed on Annex IV of the EC Habitats Directive. North Sea and Baltic Sea populations are listed under Appendix II of the Bonn Convention and Appendix III of the Bern Convention (3). All cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are listed on Annex A of EU Council Regulation 338/97; they are therefore treated by the EU as if they are included in CITES Appendix I, so that commercial trade is prohibited. All cetaceans are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985 (4).
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Threats

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Strandings and entanglement in fishing nets pose problems for this species, but the main threat is hunting (4), particularly coastal hunts (6). For several hundred years, long-finned pilot whales have been hunted off the coasts of the Faroe Islands, (Danish islands in the northeast Atlantic). Whole pods are rounded up by boats and driven towards the coastline where they are dragged ashore and killed. In the last decade, an average of 1,200 individual pilot whales have been killed each year in this way. The Faeroese people defend this hunt fiercely, and maintain that it is long-standing tradition and a source of free protein (2).
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Brief Summary

provided by Ecomare
Pilot whales are large dolphins with a markedly round forehead. They were named after their reputation for leading fishermen to good fishing grounds for octopus. There is one population living in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, there are several including one by Antarctica. Just like killer whales, pilot whales live in close family groups of 20 to 100 animals. They hunt mostly squid. Pilot whales sometimes strand in massive numbers. Sightings of groups of pilot whales migrating through the North Sea appear to be increasing in the past few years. The most recent pilot whale beaching was in May 2006 on Schiermonnikoog.
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Diagnostic Description

provided by FAO species catalogs
Externally, the long-finned pilot whale resembles its short-finned relative. The head is globose, with an upsloping mouthline. The flippers are extremely long (18 to 27% of the body length) and slender, with pointed tips and an angled leading edge that forms an "elbow". The dorsal fin is about one-third of the way back from the snout tip, and is low, widebased, and falcate. The tail stock is deepened (remains of more-or-less uniform height from the saddle patch to just ahead of the flukes). Males have a larger, more bulbous head; larger, thicker dorsal fin; and deeper tail stock than do females.

Predominantly dark brownish grey to black, pilot whales have a white to light grey anchor-shaped patch on the chest, a light grey "saddle" behind the dorsal fin, and light grey "eyebrow" streaks.

Inside the mouth are 8 to 13 pairs of sharp, pointed teeth in the anterior part of each jaw.

Can be confused with: In some temperate waters, long-finned and short-finned pilot whales overlap in distribution. In these areas, the 2 species will be extremely difficult to distinguish at sea. Tooth counts and relative flipper lengths (both of which are generally not useful in at sea sightings) are helpful means of separating the 2. In the lower latitude areas of its range, the long-finned pilot whale can be confused with false killer whale and less likely, pygmy killer whale and melon-headed whale; however, the differences in head shape and dorsal-fin shape and position should permit correct identification.

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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Size

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Newborns are 1.7 to 1.8 m long. Adults reach 6.7 m (males) and 5.7 m (females) in length. Bulls reach weights of 2 000 kg.
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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Brief Summary

provided by FAO species catalogs
Pilot whales are highly social; they are generally found in pods of about 20 to 100, but some groups contain more, to over 1 000. Based on photo-identification and genetic work, pilot whales appear to live in relatively stable pods like those of killer whales, and not in fluid groups characteristic of many smaller dolphins. The mating system is hypothesized to be polygynous, which is consistent with the observed sexual dimorphism and adult sex ratio. Pilot whales are apparently deep divers. Groups often forage in broad ranks, sometimes with other species. Although they sometimes are aerially active, pilot whales are often seen rafting in groups at the surface, apparently resting. This is one of the species most often involved in mass strandings. Strandings are fairly frequent, for instance, on Cape Cod (Massachusetts, USA) beaches from October to January. Their tight social structure also makes pilot whales vulnerable to herding, and this has been taken advantage of by whalers in drive fisheries off Newfoundland, the Faeroe Islands, and elsewhere. Breeding can apparently occur at any time of the year, but peaks occur in summer in both hemispheres. Mating occurs primarily in spring to summer.

Primarily squid eaters, pilot whales will also take small medium-sized fish, when available.

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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Benefits

provided by FAO species catalogs
The major exploitation of this species is probably the drive fisheries that were mentioned above. Today they are only taken in Greenland and the Faeroe Islands, but in the past, Newfoundland, Norway, Iceland, Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides were also sites of fisheries. Pilot whales are also known to be taken incidentally in trawl and gillnets fisheries in the western North Atlantic, and in swordfish driftnets in the Mediterranean. IUCN:

Insufficiently known.

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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Long-finned pilot whale

provided by wikipedia EN

The long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) is a large species of oceanic dolphin. It shares the genus Globicephala with the short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus). Long-finned pilot whales are known as such because of their unusually long pectoral fins.

Taxonomy and naming

Etymology

Pilot whales get their name from the original belief that there was a "pilot" or lead individual in their groups.[3][4] The name for the genus, "Globicephala" is derived from a combination of the Latin words globus ("globe") and kephale ("head").[3][4] The specific name "melas" is Greek for "black". This species has also earned the nickname of "pothead whale" in some places because the shape of its head reminded early whalers of black cooking pots.[5]

Taxonomy

This species was first classified in 1809 by Thomas Stewart Traill and given the name "Delphinus melas".[6] However, this scientific name was changed later to "Globicephala melaena". Then in 1986, the specific name for this species was reverted to its original form as "melas".[7]

Anatomy and morphology

Size

The sexes are dimorphic, with females reaching lengths of up to 5.7 meters (19 ft) and 1,300 kg (2,900 lb), while males are significantly larger at up to 6.7 meters (22 ft) and 2,300 kg (5,070 lb).[8] This makes the Long-finned pilot whale the second largest member of the dolphin family, behind the killer whale (Orcinus orca).

Appearance

 src=
Skeleton of a long-finned pilot whale.
Long finned pilot whale skeleton.jpg

Despite its common name, the long-finned pilot whale is actually a large species of dolphin. The same is true of orcas and several other small whales. It has a bulbous forehead and is black or dark grey in colour with light-grey or white markings on the throat and belly regions.[9] This light grey patch found on the throat of pilot whales forms the shape of an anchor. Some individuals have other distinct markings such as a light coloured area behind dorsal fin, known as a saddle patch, as well as an upwards sweeping stripe just behind the eye. The dorsal fin is thick and falcate in nature, and is located about a third of the way down the length of the animal. The common name of this species is a reference to the pilot whale's long, sickle-shaped pectoral flippers that are 18 to 27 percent of its total body length.[8] Being a toothed whale, pilot whales have a single blowhole.[10]

It can be challenging to tell male and female apart in the wild for many cetacean species. Long-finned pilot whales are no exception, though it was thought in the past that males had hooked dorsal fins while females did not. Recent research on fin shape has shown that this is not a predictable way to distinguish between the sexes.[11] However, males are bigger in size, and relative fin dimensions as well as other characteristics may still be discovered to allow for distinguishing the sex of at least certain age classes for free-ranging pilot whales.

The ranges of long-finned and short-finned pilot whales overlap in some areas of the world.[12] As the difference between them is mainly distinguished by the length of the pectoral flippers and tooth counts, it is extremely hard to tell the two species apart in these areas.[5][13]

 src=
Pilot whale cow and calf – Ireland
 src=
Pilot whales – Ireland

Physiology

The long-finned pilot whale has more neocortical neurons than any mammal studied to date, in fact having almost twice as many as humans.[14]

Behavior and life history

Social behavior

Long-finned pilot whales are very social in nature. They are usually seen in groups, which range in size from a couple of individuals to aggregations of over a thousand.[15] However, 20 to 150 individuals are more commonly observed.[15][16] Studies have shown that this species often forms small long-term social units made up of around 8-12 individuals.[17][18] Genetic investigations of the pilot whales driven ashore in the Faroese hunts have shown a relatedness amongst whales, suggesting a matrilineal structure within social units.[19][20] This means that calves - females and perhaps the males as well - remain with their mothers for life.

These groups have been observed socializing with common bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins and Risso's dolphins.[21][22] Pilot whales mainly feed on cephalopods, though in certain regions fish may be more prominent in their diet.[23][24] Northwestern Atlantic whales are thought to dine predominately on short-finned squid.[25]

Long-finned pilot whales can often be seen lobtailing and spyhopping. Occasionally they may also breach. This species is notorious for mass strandings. During a specific time of year, approximately December to March, these whales beach themselves in high numbers along the coast of New Zealand. The reasons for stranding are not fully understood, but because pilot whales have strong social bonds, it is hypothesized that when one animal strands, the rest of the group may have the tendency to follow.

These whales have also been observed babysitting calves that are not their own, with one study showing that many of those doing the babysitting are males.[26]

Communication

Long-finned pilot whales make many different kinds of sounds. In addition to squeaks, whistles, buzzes, and other calls likely used for communicative functions, they also produce rapid clicks that function as a type of bio sonar known as echolocation. This allows the whales to "see" in the murky, dark environments that they live in by listening to the nature of the echoes that return.

The whistles and pulsed calls that pilot whales make seem not to fall into distinct types, but rather can be arranged on a continuum.[27] These calls are produced in a wide frequency range, which has been observed from less than 1 kHz to about 20 kHz.[28]

Recent studies have found that a large portion of their vocal repertoire is made up of calls produced in repeated sequences.[29] These repetitions are more commonly heard when whales are socializing than any other behavioral state (e.g. foraging, traveling, and resting).[30]

Reproduction

Females reach sexual maturity at about 8 years of age, while males reach sexual maturity at around 12 years of age.[8] It seems that mating can take place at any time during the year, but it peaks in late spring/early summer for both northern and southern hemisphere populations.[8] Mating is thought to occur when different groups meet up, and breeding within units is a rare occurrence.[20][31]

Gestation lasts approximately 12 to 16 months and calving occurs once every 3 to 6 years. Calves are generally 1.6–2.0 m (5 ft 3 in–6 ft 7 in) at birth, and weigh about 75 kg (165 lb).[32] Most calves are born in the summer, though some calving occurs throughout the year. There is evidence that some males may stay with their mothers after they reach sexual maturity.[33]

Parasites

Among other parasites, long-finned pilot whales harbour Crassicauda carbonelli, a species of nematodes which is found exclusively in the penis.[34]

Distribution and abundance

Abundance

Though long-finned pilot whales appear to be abundant, there have been no recent reliable estimates for the worldwide population and very little long-term baseline data collected for monitoring population trends. However, based on their apparent abundance and what information is available, they are currently listed by the IUCN as "Least Concern." Conservative estimates for the population found off Newfoundland estimated around 13,000 individuals.[35] Another study estimated a total of 780,000 animals in the North Atlantic, though this study includes both short and long-finned pilot whales as they are hard to distinguish at sea.[36]

Current distribution

Long-finned pilot whales are found in the North Atlantic (subspecies Globicephala melas melas), as well as the Southern Hemisphere (subspecies Globicephala melas edwardii). Those in the north are wide-ranging and have been observed off the coast of the eastern U.S. and Canada, across the Atlantic in places such as the Azores and the Faroe Islands, as well as down the western coast of Europe all the way to the Strait of Gibraltar and North Africa.[37][38][39][40] In the southern ocean, long-finned pilot whales are thought to range from 19 to 60° S, but are commonly seen in the Antarctic Convergence Zone and other areas, showing that they go as far as 68° S.[41] This species has been observed near sea ice in the Antarctic.

Historical distribution

Though there are only two recognized living subspecies, there was once a third that was found in the western North Pacific around Japan.[42] These are thought to have died off sometime between the 8th and 12th century. This unnamed form was documented in historical literature and confirmed by the discovery of fossils in several locations of Japan, such as on Rebun Island and in Chiba Prefecture. Their biological niche after the extinction has likely been refilled by short-finned pilot whales, who are currently present in parts of this region.[43]

Strandings

Mass strandings

Long-finned pilot whales are the most common species involved in mass strandings. The largest event consisted of 1,000 whales on the Chatham Islands in 1918.[44] Though mass strandings of this species are most common in New Zealand, pilot whales have beached themselves in many other countries in places such as northern Europe, the Atlantic coast of North America, South America, and southern parts of Africa.

Over 600 pilot whales were involved in a stranding at Farewell Spit, New Zealand on February 9, 2017. This was the second largest mass stranding event to be documented.

Research from strandings

Scientists have learned a number of important things from mass strandings of long-finned pilot whales around the world. Studies suggest that they do not always beach together in family units - as multiple matrilines can be found in a single stranding event.[45]

Conservation

Current conservation status

The North Sea and Baltic Sea populations of the long-finned pilot whale are listed on Appendix II[46] of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), since they have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements.

The long-finned pilot whale is also covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS),[47] the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS),[48] the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU)[49] and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU).[50]

Whaling

 src=
Killed pilot whales in Hvalba

Whaling of this species in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic has been practiced since the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands. The hunts, called grindadráp in Faroese, are mainly executed during the summer. They are non-commercial - though people may sell their share after the catch has been divided - and organized on a community level. The hunters first surround the pilot whales with a wide semicircle of many boats. The boats then drive the pilot whales into a bay or to the bottom of a fjord. It is regulated by Faroese authorities but not by the International Whaling Commission, which does not regulate the hunts of small cetaceans.[51][52] As of the end of November 2008 the chief medical officers of the Faroe Islands have recommended that pilot whales no longer be considered fit for human consumption because of the level of mercury in the whales.[53][54]

Though the Faroe Islands are home to the only remaining large scale long-finned pilot whale hunts in the world, this species has also been hunted historically elsewhere. An industrial drive fishery was started in the Trinity Bay area of Newfoundland, Canada in 1947 by a Norwegian whaling captain. The catches increased every year until in 1956, there were approximately 10,000 pilot whales successfully captured and killed. This species was also historically hunted along the New England coastline.

Aside from the Faroe Islands, a few pilot whales are taken opportunistically in Greenland each year.

Tourism

 src=
Whale-watching vessel and long-finned pilot whales off Cape Breton

Long-finned pilot whales are economically important in the whale-watching industry of some areas of the world, especially in eastern Canada. Even though there are a number of other species of whales found in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and around Newfoundland, pilots are one of the more common ones sighted inshore during the summer season. The tour vessels used in these regions are normally old converted fishing vessels or zodiacs. In these places, pilot whales provide valuable income for people living in rural fishing communities.

The effects of whale-watching on long-finned pilot whales have not been well studied.

Museum specimens

The articulated skeleton of a Long-finned Pilot Whale, killed in the Firth of Forth in 1867, was put on display at Leeds City Museum, UK in 2019.[55]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Minton, G., Reeves, R. & Braulik, G. 2018. Globicephala melas. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T9250A50356171. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T9250A50356171.en. Downloaded on 18 December 2018.
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  40. ^ Bloch, D., Desportes, G., Mouritsen, R., Skaaning, S. and Stefansson, E. (1993c). An introduction to studies of the ecology and status of the long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) off the Faroe Islands, 1986-1988. Report of the International Whaling Commission. Special Issue 14: 1-32.
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Long-finned pilot whale: Brief Summary

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The long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) is a large species of oceanic dolphin. It shares the genus Globicephala with the short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus). Long-finned pilot whales are known as such because of their unusually long pectoral fins.

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Diet

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squid mostly but also a variety of fish.
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Distribution

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in all oceans except Northern Indian Ocean and North Pacific (where they occurred historically off Japan).
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Jacob van der Land [email]

Distribution

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Antarctica/Southern Ocean; Southeast Pacific; Eastern Atlantic Ocean, Indo-West Pacific; Western Atlantic Ocean
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat

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temperate and subpolar, mostly oceanic
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat

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offshore; generally occupy areas of high relief or submerged banks.
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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IUCN Red List Category

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Data Deficient (DD)
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Morphology

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Distinguishing characteristics: black-coloured whales with a white belly, spherical melon and a robust body. No constriction at the neck and the body is quite cylindrical from the head backward to the region of the dorsal fin. Dorsal fin has a long base, it is low, directed backwards and is set for forward on the body. 8-13 teeth in each of the 4 jaws and flippers which are 1/5 of the body length.
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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