Our Latest News

Viewing platform upgrades for Rocky Cape's Aboriginal heritage sites

13/02/2018

Two viewing platforms have been replaced as part of visitor facility improvements at Rocky Cape National Park on the North-West Coast. The platforms are at the Lee Archer Cave and South Cave sites, which have highly significant Aboriginal heritage values.More

Urban focus for World Wetlands Day

01/02/2018

'Wetlands for a sustainable future' is the theme for World Wetlands Day 2018. This international celebration of the significance of wetland environments is held annually on 2 February.More

Stage Three of Three Capes Track complete

29/01/2018

Stage Three of the award-winning Three Capes Track has now been completed. The Cape Raoul and Shipstern Bluff lookout tracks have been upgraded to a class 3 dry boot standard track consistent with the existing Three Capes walks.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.