Pilot Whale

  • Irish name: An Píolótach fadeiteach
  • Latin name: Globicephala melas
  • Size: Males 6.7 m, females 5.7 m
  • Diet: Mackerel, dogfish, herring, cod and squid

The second largest member of the dolphin family has a bulky body with a protruding bulbous head, characteristic elongated flippers with a backswept and rounded dorsal fin that is broader on adult males than females. Colouration is black throughout the body with a light grey “bib” on the throat.


An inquisitive species that will regularly approach vessels and spy-hop in close-knit groups. They rarely breach but may be seen associating with bottlenose or Atlantic white-sided dolphins on occasion.


Pilot whales frequent deep water habitats along the Rockall trough and continental shelf year-round. Sightings of this species in inshore waters are rare and likely to be associated with live stranding events. They are the species most likely to mass strand in Ireland but may also be suitable candidates for rescue and refloat attempts.

Long-finned Pilot Whale Sightings 1992 – 2017

Downloadable Detailed Species Information


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