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Celebrating the achievements of landcarers

04/12/2017

The Tamar Island Wetland Cares Volunteer Group has been recognised in the 2017 Landcare Tasmania Awards.More

Horsetail Falls walk now open

15/11/2017

Visitors to the West Coast are in for some spectacular views on the new Horsetail Falls walk near Queenstown.More

Bruny Island Neck lookout re-opens

10/11/2017

The walkways and lookout at the Bruny Island Neck will re-open to the public today, following the completion of a new, larger car park that will provide improved access to the popular lookout.More

Short-finned Pilot Whale

Drawing by Graham Sanders
Like the Long-finned Pilot Whale, the Short-finned Pilot Whale has an exaggerated, bulbous melon (head) and indistinct beak, with a broad wide dorsal fin and slender sickle-shaped flippers. They have a wider skull than the Long-finned Pilot Whale and less vivid colouration ventrally (pale anchor between flippers) but the grey patch behind the dorsal fin is often quite large and obvious. Their flippers are only about 20% of their body length compared to up to 30% in the Long-finned Pilot Whale. They reach maturity at about 5m and 1.5-2 tonnes at around 17 years of age and can live over 60 years. They form very close bonds with pods ranging from 10-30 individuals up to several hundred. They often swim with Bottle-nosed Dolphins with the adult pilot males and dolphins remaining on the perimeter to protect juveniles. They tend to occur in tropical waters.

General Information

There are two forms of the Short-finned Pilot Whale occuring off Japan: the southern and northern forms both of which are still subject to small scale whaling. They are a deep water species feeding on squid and fish and reach depths of around 800m. They tend to move closer inshore when following spawning squid. Weighing 55kg at birth and measuring 1.4m they are generally weaned at around 2 years but can suckle until 15 years of age. Males migrate to new pods which are based on groups of related females after weaning.

Stranding Information

There have only been a few Short-finned Pilot Whale stranding events in Australia. Tasmania has only had a couple of stranding events, including one mass stranding event of 60 animals in 1990 at Blackmans Bay. Most strandings occur in the mainland states, particularly in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. Most mass strandings have occurred off Hawaii, USA, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.