Latin name

Globicephala melas

Other names

Pothead whale


The most characteristic feature is a large, melon-shaped head. This shape does not appear immediately after birth, but only after puberty. The beak is very short. The long-finned pilot whale is the only known mammal to have more neurons in its cerebral cortex than humans. 

Features of fish fins

The pectoral fins are very long and make up one-fifth of the total body length.

Fish colouring

Coloration is mostly black, with a gray saddle-like spot behind the dorsal fin. 


Widespread in the North Atlantic, including the Mediterranean and North Sea. Formerly found in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, where they are now probably absent. Around Antarctica they penetrate far south, sometimes as far south as 68°S latitude.


These dolphins are found in temperate and circumpolar zones. They can be found in deep water or coastal waters.


Males can reach a length of 8.5 m, with an average length of 6 m; mass up to 3,800 kg. Females are smaller: maximum length 6 m, average length 4.8 m, mass up to 1,800 kg.


They are social animals that live in packs. Such packs contain 10 to 50 animals, sometimes more than 1,000. Females tend to outnumber males because males have a high mortality rate and leave the pack once they reach sexual maturity.

Are nomadic animals, moving over large areas throughout the year. These movements serve various purposes, such as foraging for food.

They use a language of sounds to communicate with each other. These signals are fairly simple when at rest, but when danger or prey approaches, the sounds become more complex. Sounds are also used for echolocation, which allows dolphins to navigate in space.

Food and feeding habits

Carnivorous animals. Feeds mainly on shellfish and fish, eating about 34 kg of food per day. Favorite food is squid, as well as various types of fish - cod, mackerel, herring.


Mating takes place between members of the pack. During courtship, males are aggressive with each other, colliding heads at high speed. Polygamous species. Mating can occur at any time of the year, but the peak mating season is from April to June. Females are capable of breeding at 6 years of age. Males reach sexual maturity much later, at 12 years of age. Pregnancy lasts 16 months and 1 cub is born. The weight of the newborn is about 100 kg, the length - about 1.8 meters. Weaning occurs at the age of 23-27 months. After that, the female can give birth only after 4 years. 

The maximum life expectancy is 59 years for females and 46 years for males.


The long-finned pilot whale is fished in the Faroe Islands and Greenland. 

Relationship with a person

At least one reliable case of a Long-finned pilot whale "attacking" a human is known. A male grabbed a female diver by the leg, lowered himself with her to a depth of about 10 m, and then gently lifted her back up. The contact was provoked by the diver deliberately swimming among the animals and touching them with her hands.

Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Squad Artiodactyla
Family Delphinidae
Genus Globicephala
Species G. melas
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 59
Maximum body weight, kg 3800
Maximum length, cm 850
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Long-finned pilot whale

Tags: long finned pilot whale