Tropical Pilot whale

Nosy be dolphin

Sometimes called "pilot whale" (it is called "pilot whale" in English), the pilot whale is indeed part of the dolphin family and the subfamily globicephalinae, of which it is one of the largest representatives. Widely distributed across the globe, it is a very sociable animal that is often found in the company of other species (bottlenose dolphin, humpback dolphin). He is easy to approach and even shows curiosity, and is capable, despite his build, of spectacular jumps and caudal strikes.

The very close morphology of the two species (pilot pilot whale and tropical pilot whale) makes the distinction extremely difficult, especially since Madagascar presents itself as an area of overlap of their distribution areas.

When can you see globicephales in Nosy Be?

Pilot whales can be found all year round around Nosy Be, so it is possible to see them during all ou excursions, whether inside the bay (snorkeling rand'eau or whale shark excursion), or offshore when we are looking for whales and when we travel to Nosy Iranja.

What do they feed on?

The pilot whale is essentially teutophagous (food based on cephalopods: octopus, squid). But if necessary, he eats various species of fish (cod, herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, etc.). Depending on the size, sex and time of the year, the daily food ration necessary for each individual is estimated between 30 and 100 kg.

How tall are they?

The pilot whale is one of the largest toothed cetaceans (odontocetes): males measure from 5.5 m to 6.2 m (up to 7.2 m in the North Pacific) for 1.5 to 3.5 tonnes , and females 4.5 to 5.5 m for 1 to 2.5 tonnes. At birth, the young already weigh 70 to 80 kg for a length of 1.7 to 1.8 m.

Why do they sometimes stick their heads out of the water?

This attitude, called "spyhopping", practiced by many cetacean species and even some sharks, is particularly noticed in pilot whales.

It consists of taking the head out of the water, sometimes turning it 180 degrees.

The objective is to scan the surroundings, in order to find one's bearings in relation to the earth or in relation to the surrounding boats.

Most cetaceans have the ability to see both underwater and out of the water.

Does pilot whale have predators?

Despite its big size, it does have predators, such as the killer whale and certain sharks (white shark, tiger shark, longimanus).