martin.j.tattersall's picture

Small Cetacean

Observed: 24th July 2013 By: martin.j.tattersallmartin.j.tattersall’s reputation in Mammalsmartin.j.tattersall’s reputation in Mammals
bottlenose dolphin 1
bottlenose dolphin 2
bottlenose dolphin 3
bottlenose group
pilot whale?

Rather less active and considerably larger animals than the common dolphins observed earlier. They did not leap clear of the water, but frequently broke surface and exhaled 'blows' before curving back underwater. Large, hooked dorsal fins. Maintained their distance from the ship, simply passing by rather than approaching it. Group of two adults and a calf pictured, but others were present. Estimate size as 3 to 5 metres in length.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Gill Sinclair's picture

Long-finned pilot whales?

These dorsal fins look more like pilot whales to me, and the colour is dark for bottlenose too (but that could be a trick of the light).
Did you get a good look at the heads as they surfaced? Another name for pilot whales is 'potheads' because of their very bulbous heads, and that's usually the clincher if they're not showing too much of themselves above the water.
Pilot whales can be quite active but often 'log' in groups, swimming very lazily or just floating, which it sounds as though these might have been doing.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

james spencer's picture

Pilot Whale

Long-finned Pilot Whale was my thought also on the shape of the fin and the way they didnt really break the water when surfacing.

martin.j.tattersall's picture

Pilot Whale -vs- Bottlenose

Thank you so much for your comments. I have uploaded another photo. Although it doesn't fully show the head of the animal, it does seem to show a distinctly bulbous shape. Perhaps therefore pilot whale is looking a lot more likely?

Gill Sinclair's picture

Pilot whale

Definitely a pilot whale from that head. Thanks for posting the additional photo.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

trudy-russell's picture

excellent photos what a great

excellent photos what a great sighting, I was just out on the ferry in Biscay but the only pilots we saw were quite far from the boat so no photos!

Trudy Russell
Marine Advisor
Natural England

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