The pilot whale (Globicephala melas)

The pilot whale (Globicephala melas) is a species of toothed whale whale of the Delphinidae family, although their behavior is closer to that of the great whales.

As the killer whale, pilot whale is a closer relative of dolphins whales. It is black or dark gray, has a diagonal gray or white stripe behind each eye, and a head (melon) long and round. This last named in Castilian, since his head is taken to be a cauldron.

Physical characteristics
Cetacea robust body, which can reach 6 to 6.5 m males and 4 to 5.5 m and females exceed 2 ton?. Its main feature is a head with an exaggerated melon, more marked in males, with a separate little or no peak marked by a fold melon.

Mouth having 8 to 13 conical anteriorly sharp teeth in each jaw bones 4 position. There is no constriction in the neck and from here the body is cylindrical to the dorsal fin; it is located in the anterior half of the body and has an elongated base: in males is bulbous, very arched back, with a long base and attack the rim width and thickness, while females are less arched. The pectoral fins are located closer to the head and are quite long (almost 30% of the body length), with a sort of elbow and finished at an acute angle.

The caudal peduncle is thick, and the caudal fin has a notch forming two lobes concave edge with sharp ends. Juveniles are brown or light gray, and dark gray or blackish adults; in the ventral area have a large spot shaped anchor light colors from the throat to the anus; dorsal fin after stain with no other form of saddle.

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It is a gregarious and highly social species that normally travel in small groups of 4-6 individuals, but often is seen in groups of 50 or hundreds. They are polygamous, males reaching maturity at age 12 and females at 6 or 7. Mating occurs between February and March in cold water and the young are born between July and October, about 15 or 16 months, measuring 1 , 4 to 1.7 m and weighing about 75 kg, lacking teeth and staying with the mother of 23-27 months, the period lasting breastfeeding. The reproductive cycle lasts about 40 months, so possibly a female gives birth every 3 years or so. Their diet consists mainly of squid (Illex sp.) And cod (Gadus morhua), along with a wide range of other fish, reaching about 14 kg ingested daily; You can make dives up to 600 m to hunt their prey is squid and thanks to having such a prominent melon, which uses sound mode as ecolocalizador. Its main natural predators are orcas and sharks; often large groups are stranded on the coast being almost impossible to return to sea life.

It has a sturdy, one nostril, a dorsal fin rear-facing and located near the front, and long black fins. Adult males have a length of 4 m and 7.6 m females between 3 m and 5.6 m, and reach a weight of 2,000 kg. The pups are between 1.8 and 2 meters and weigh about 75 kg at birth. Its snout is short, and has a well developed melon. Adults are dark gray to black, while juveniles are light gray. Their diet is based on squid and fish.

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They are very social animals, living in family and travel in groups of up to a hundred, organized around a leader. They are very active and very often can be seen on the surface. Younger specimens can be seen jumping, but this quality is rare in adults. The pilot whales breathe normally several times before making a dive for several minutes. The dives hunting when looking squid or fish, can last more than 10 minutes. They can dive to depths of 600 meters, but most of the time not exceeding 30-60 meters.

The Calderón and humans
Usually, the pilot whale is an animal that dislikes human presence, these being very likely mammals to approach the vessels that outputs the Strait to appreciate them in their natural environment. This is an excellent diver, you can descend to 300 feet deep to find food. Often, after eating, are seen floating in still water, at the mercy of the tides.

When a pilot whales stranded, often due to have been disoriented and separated from the group. Are gregarious animals with greater social cohesion, and once isolated from the group are very vulnerable. In general, all cetaceans when they are away from their normal range suffer adverse ecological conditions and maladjustment, causing his death by stranding sooner or later.

As with other Delphinidae, they can be injured by getting too close to colliding with ships and propellers. Read more on Emmons

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