Azores : Peixe boi - POR : Baleia piloto tropicale - ITA
: Globicefalo - SPAIN : Ballena piloto - GB : Short-finned pilot
whale - GER : Kurzflossen-grinwall - NEDER : Griend - SWEEDS : Grindval
- NOORS : Grindhval - DEENS : Grindwal.
The average adult length is about 4 to 5 m. The female can reach
a maximum length of 5 m and the males, 6.5 m. Adults weigh 2.5 to
3 tons. At birth, calves are about 1.4 m and weigh 60 kg. Each jaw
has 7 to 9 pairs of conical teeth. Body coloration is very dark
grey with a lighter shade extending from the chin to the anus. The
head is thick and bulbous (melon shape), a characteristic that reaches
its extreme as the animal ages. They feed on cephalopods and small
fish (to a maximum of 45 kg per day). Gestation lasts 15 to 16 months
and lactation can last as long as 24 months. The average interbirth
interval is 3 to 10 years, this interval increasing as the female
ages. This species emits a series of different sounds : clangs,
whistles, hammer - like sounds; meows. Surprisingly, one of the
sounds they make resembles the " moo " of a cow, and this
is probably why the old whalers gave this species the common name
of " peixe-boi " (bull fish). Sound is used in two main
ways - for echolocation and for communication.
The short-finned pilot whales are frequently observed near other
species (e.g., Tursiops truncatus, Physeter macrocephalus). These
large Delphinidae are found more frequently in the Azores from April
to October (their " cousins ", the Globicephala melanea,
were observed by fishermen at different times during the winter).
This species was observed during our trips and was present 35 %
of the time. The short-finned pilot whales can be confused with
the Grampus griseus and with the Pseudorca crassidens. The pilot
whales usually occur in large herds (tens of individuals) but we
have observed already (July 1993) large groups with several hundred
animals. Usually when a group of pilot whales is found, it is possible
to observe some animals at the surface because they remain submerged
only a few minutes. However, larger males can perform long dives
(more than 15 minutes at a time) to depths of 600 m. This species'
average swimming speed is about 4 knots but they can reach speeds
of 20 knots.