Short-finned pilot whale
The Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) is one of the two species of cetacean in the genus Globicephala. It is part of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae), though its behaviour is closer to that of the larger whales.
Short-finned Pilot Whales can be confused with their relatives the long-finned pilot whales, but there are various differences. As their names indicate, their flippers are shorter than those of the Long-finned Pilot Whale, with a gentler curve on the edge. They have fewer teeth than the Long-finned Pilot Whale, with 14 to 18 on each jaw. Short-finned pilot whales are black or dark grey with a grey or white cape. They have grey or almost white patches on their bellies and throats and a grey or white stripe which goes diagonally upwards from behind each eye.
Adult males may have a number of scars on their bodies. Their heads are bulbous and this can become more defined in older males. Their dorsal fins vary in shape depending on how old the whale is and whether it is male or female. They have flukes with sharply pointed tips, a distinct notch in the middle and concave edges. They tend to be quite slender when they are young, becoming more stocky as they get older.
The short-finned whale has a stocky body, a bulbous forehead, no prominent beak, long flippers sharply pointed at the tip, black or dark grey color, fin set forward on body, fluke raised before deep dive, may float motionless at the surface, frequently seen in very large groups, prefers deep water, may be approached. Their diet is composed of fish, squid, and octopus.
Adults males are approximately 18 feet in length whereas adult females only reach about 12 feet in length. Adults can weigh anywhere from 2200 to 6600 pounds. When they are born, short-finned pilot whales are about 1.4–1.9 m (4 ft 7 in–6 ft 3 in) long. At birth, they weigh about 60 kg (130 lb). Males live nearly 45 years whereas females can live up to 60 years.
Short-finned Pilot Whales are very sociable and are rarely seen alone. They are found in groups of ten to thirty, though some pods are as large as fifty. There have been a few sitings of pods that are over several hundred animals that have also been recorded. Pods are primarily matrilinial, or a female-based society. Some older females have been recording actually taking care of calves that are not their own. Males are polygynous, meaning that they will mate with multiple females at one time or throughout their lives. Pods are often found with approximately one mature male per every eight mature females. Maturing males will often leave their birth school but most females will stay in the same pod their entire lives. They are sometimes seen logging and will allow boats to get quite close. They rarely breach, but may be seen lobtailing (slapping their flukes on the water surface) and spyhopping (poking their heads above the surface). Before diving, they arch their tails and raise them above the surface. When coming to the surface to breathe, adults tend to show only the top of their head, whereas calves will throw their entire head out of the water. Adults occasionally porpoise (lift most of the body out of the water) when swimming particularly quickly.
Females mature at about ten years of age and will start having calves every five to eight years. A female may nurse a calf for up to fifteen years as long as it is the last born calf. Their gestation period lasts just a little over a year, and a female will have anywhere from 4 to 6 calves in her lifetime. A calf will suckle from its mother for a minimum of 2 years but most will for nearly 5 years. It has been recorded that calf still fed from its mother after 15 years. A female will usually stop reproducing once reaching the age of about 40 years. 
The short-finned pilot whale primarily feeds on squid, but they will also feed on certain species of fish and octopus. The feed nearly 1000 feet below water or more. This is where they will spend great lengths of time. A pod may spread out up to a half mile to cover more area to find food. They have also been reported to "harass" sperm whales and dolphins, so marine mammals could also potentially be part of their diet.
They are known as the 'Cheetahs of the Deep' for the high speed pursuits of squids at depths of hundreds of metres.
Short-finned pilot whales, unlike their close cousins the long-finned pilot whale, are found in most waters around the world. They primarily like warm tropic waters but usually stay offshore in the deeper waters. They also tend to be found in areas with a high density of squid. There are known populations found in the north Atlantic stretching all the way down to northern South America including the Gulf of Mexico and stretching all the way over to Africa as well. It is thought they migrate south into the western north Atlantic in the late winter/early spring. There are other populations recorded throughout the entire Pacific stretching from Japan to southern Guatemala as well as the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
There are 2 distinct populations off the coasts of Japan that have differences in their anatomy and genetics and could potentially comprosmie more than one distinct species or subspecies. Their exact taxonomy has yet to be verified.
The Short-finned Pilot Whale is covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS). The species is further included in the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU) and the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU)
In a very few areas of Japan, mainly along the central Pacific coast, pilot whales are commercially hunted and the meat is available for human consumption. In certain restaurants or izakayas, pilot whale steaks are marinated, cut into small chunks, and grilled. The meat is high in protein and low in fat (a whale's fat is contained in the layer of blubber beneath the skin). When grilled, the meat is slightly flaky and quite flavorful, somewhat gamey, though similar to a quality cut of beef but with distinct yet subtle undertones recalling its marine origin.
- Mead, J. G.; Brownell, R. L., Jr. (2005). "Order Cetacea". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 723–743. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman, R.L. (2011). "Globicephala macrorhynchus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 January 2012.
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- "Short-Finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)". NOAA Fisheries.
- Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas
- Official website of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area
- Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia
- Official webpage of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region
- "No Matter How You Slice It, Whale Tastes Unique", Planet Ark (Reuters), 2002, retrieved 14 January 2011
- Browne, Anthony (9 September 2001), "Stop Blubbering: Whales are supposed to be protected but that doesn't stop the Japanese killing and eating hundreds of them every year. But does the West's moral outrage over the pursuit of our gentle leviathans amount to anything more than hypocrisy and cultural bullying?", The Observer, retrieved 14 June 2011
- Buncombe, Andrew (2005), "The Whaling Debate: Arctic Lament", Ezilon, retrieved 14 January 2011