Richiesta informazioni

Ufficio di Informazione e Accoglienza Turistica IAT

Via Vittorio Emanuele 172,
presso i Giardini del Palazzo del Parco

Long-finned pilot whale

Long-finned pilot whale

Globicephala melas

Long-finned pilot whale
Male: Up to 6.2 m, 2 t
Female: Up to 5 m, 1 t
Deep-sea squids, fishes
Sighting frequency
By-catch, chemical pollution, ship strikes
Conservation status
Conservation status

Long-finned pilot whales are very distinctive delphinids, having a completely black body (except for an anchor-shaped pattern on the belly), a round head, a wide, low dorsal fin, and long, narrow pectoral fins. They are very gregarious and usually form cohesive groups of a few dozen individuals, although occasionally much larger shoals may be encountered. Groups are made up entirely of family members, from which only the adult males stray in order to mate with females from other groups.

As in all other cetaceans, the skeleton supporting a pilot whale’s pectoral fins is similar to that of the human hand.



The average lifespan of male pilot whales ranges from 35 to 45 years, while that of females is around 60 years. The average interval between births is among the longest in cetaceans, ranging from 3 to 5 years. The young remain in close contact with their mothers for a long period, continuing to breastfeed for three years or more, although they begin to ingest solid food at around one year old. Once adults, they feed on different species of squid, cuttlefish and octopus from depths up to 800 m, hunting mainly at night.

  • Long-finned pilot whale

How to recognise species and distinguish individuals

By the shape of the dorsal fin and the notches on its posterior margin.

  • Long-finned pilot whale

They are very curious animals and will sometimes stand upright with their head above the water to take a 'look' at their surroundings

Did you know that…

Once these cetaceans are sighted, if the boat stops without disturbing them, they are likely to approach and may linger for hours. In these situations, they often put themselves in a vertical position known as spy-hopping to observe the humans on board.

  • Long-finned pilot whale