Globicephala macrorhynchus   Gray,  1846 (Whale)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: New born: 1.5 m; Male: 6.8 m; Female: 5 m

Weight: Male: 3.3 tons; Female: 1.6 tons.

Color: Short-finned Pilot Whales are mainly black, with a lighter grey saddle behind the dorsal fin. The saddle is distinctive mark in the wild. A lightly pigmented blaze is present behind the eye. A light chevron may be present behind the blowhole on the neck. Many animals also have a lighter anchor-shaped patch on the chest. Immature animals are primarily grey.

Short finned Pilot Whales have a robust body, with a thick and bulbous head, the front of which in mature males is flattened or squarish. The upper lip is slightly protruding. The flippers are falcate, and they are about 1/6th or less of the body length. The fin is low, and the tail flukes have a concave trailing edge deeply notched in the center. There are7-9 pairs of peg-like teeth in each jaw. The Long finned Pilot Whale, in contrast, has 8-12 pairs in each jaw. Its flippers are 1/5th of the body length or more.

An interesting observation of the species is that the female becomes senile at the age of 35 years, yet continues to suckle young up to 15 additional years thereby giving their calves a reproductive edge.

The Short-finned Pilot Whale is rarely seen alone, and groups of 8 or many more are formed. There are said to be generally 40 animals in a pod. The species is quite indifferent to shipping, and can be approached very close in small boats. Disturbed Pilot Whales at sea will spy hop, rising high out of water. They peer around the side of the melon at the intruder, as they cannot see anything directly ahead.

Similar species: The Long-finned Pilot Whales Globicephala melaena, which does not occur in Indian waters, is very similar to this species. May be confused with Long finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas), for its long flipper. Also the dorsal fin of short finned pilot whale is more falcate.

Synonym (s)
Globicephala sieboldii Gray, 1846
Globicephala brachycephala Cadenat, 1957
Globicephala chinensis Gray, 1866
Globicephala indica Blyth, 1852
Globicephala macrorhyncha Fraser, 1950
Globicephala mela Morice, 1958
Globicephala melas scammonii Tomilin, 1957
Globicephala scammoni Sowerby, 1926
Globicephala scammonii Kuroda, 1938
Globicephala scamonii Nishiwaki, 1957
Globicephala sieboldii Gray, 1846
Globicephala ventricosa Lacepede, 1804
Globicephalus brachypterus Cope, 1876
Globicephalus macrorhynchus Gray, 1846
Globicephalus scammoni Dall, 1874
Globicephalus scammonii Cope, 1869
Globicephalus sibo Gray, 1871
Globiceps macrorhynca Flower, 1884
Globiocephala macrorhyncha Gibson Hill, 1950
Globiocephalus guadaloupensis Gray, 1871
Globiocephalus intermedius Van Beneden & Gervais, 1868-79
Globiocephalus propinquus Malm, 1871

Common Name (s)
• Pacific Pilot Whale (English)
• Short Finned Pilot Whale (English)
• Blackfish (English)
• Short Finned Blackfish (English)
• Short Headed Sperm Whale (English)
• Lesser Cachalot (English)
• The Indian Ca'ing Whale (English)
• Thimingalam (Tamil)
• North Pacific Pilot Whale (English)
• Bubble (English)
• Indian Pilot Whale (English)
• North Pacfic Blackfish (English)
• Short fin Pilot-whale (English)
• Short-fin Pilot Whale (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Hunting and capture for display and research are the main threats.)

Habitat:  Open Sea, Coastal
Prey:  Fish and squids.
IUCN Status:  Data Deficient


• Bay of Bengal (Lat: 15) (Long: 90) INDIA
• West Bengal, Kolkata INDIA (Record: 07/1852)
• Tamil Nadu, Cuddalore INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Alfred, JRB; Das, AK and Sanyal, AK (Eds.) (1998) Faunal diversity in India ZSI, Calcutta 1-497 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre Available at -
  • Molur, S and Walker, S (1998) Mammals of India. Report summary 1998 Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13(9) 7 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at -
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • Natural science research laboratory Museum of Texas Tech University Available at -
  • Dr. Kumaraguru, AK (2000) Studies on socioeconomics of Coral Reef resource users in the Gulf of Mannar coast, South India Centre for Marine and Coastal studies School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India Available at -
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at -
  • Singh H.S (2003) Sea mammals in marine protected area in the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat State, India Indian Journal of Marine Science 258-262pp Available at -
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-11-07

Back to Search