Up to 7,5 metres
Fish, squid, octopi, crustaceans
Everyone, turn left! Straight ahead now - pass the message on! Quick right turn – now! And down, time to dive!
Time to ascent, dive is over! Oh, you’re still here? Are you following us? Well, may I introduce my family: we are the LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALES.
My family means everything to me – there’s nothing more important than them. After all, I’ve been with them all my life and I won’t ever leave them – for nothing in this big wide ocean. My pod is 20 individuals strong, but you might come across other families living in multi-generational, tight-knit, stable pods of up to 150 individuals. Within a family, we are strongly bonded, doing everything together at the same time as a unified pod, whether that’s resting, travelling, hunting, playing, surfacing or diving. Our language is complex and built up of clicks, whistles and pulsed sounds – we use it to communicate everything we do and therefore, to organize ourselves.
We pilot whales like the temperate and subpolar oceanic waters such as around Iceland, where we can dive up to 600 metres deep. Sometime however, we venture into coastal areas as for example Skjálfandi Bay. Mostly at night, we will hunt using echolocation to locate our prey, which is mostly fish such as cod, hake, herring and mackerel. As a fairly nomadic species, the availability of food sources determines our travels and destinations.
Excuse me now, I will have to leave you as I’ve got a job to fulfil. As a senior female in the group, I have long stopped giving birth to calves myself, but I help raise those of my daughters. You’re asking how old I am? A bit rude of you, don’t you think? You and I, we barely know each other! Anyway, I am 50 years old and if I stay fit and healthy, I will live and take care of my family for another 10 years or so. My brothers and other male members of our pod are likely to live a bit shorter, still they might get as old as 45 years of age. In difference to the family structures of other species, also they will stay with us all their lives, but blend with other pods during mating season.
Why we are called the pilot whales? Well, an old theory of yours said that our pods were piloted by a single leader – which is really not true. What I wonder though: why did you ever decide to call me a whale? After all, I am a dolphin – the second largest to be precise.
Anyway, enough of breathing, time to dive. Let´s go, buddies!
Relative size to a human