Short-finned Pilot Whale

Hawaiian Island Cetaceans

Short-finned Pilot Whale

Scientific Name - Globicephala macrorhynchus

Average Length - Male: 7m, Female: 5.1m

Photo Credit: © Robin W. Baird/Cascadia Research Collective


Short-finned pilot whales are commonly observed around the Main Hawaiian Islands, as well as around the northwestern Hawaiian islands. The stock in Hawaiian waters is estimated at over 12,000 individuals. Short-finned pilot whales are one of many species referred to as “blackfish” because of their black coloration. They can easily be confused with false killer whales  because of the similar body size and black coloration. Adult short-finned pilot whales have bulbous heads and males have a large and curved dorsal fin. They often engage in spy hopping behavior and ride the bow of boats.  Adult pilot whales represent large animals that may weigh up to 5000 lbs. Short-finned pilot whales often school in groups of 15-50 and are thought to feed primarily on squid.

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