Two Dolphin Species Commonly Mistaken as Non-Dolphin Toothed Whales

There are two species of dolphin that are commonly mistaken for Odontocetis (toothed whales)  not in the Delphinidae (dolphin) family.

The first is the Killer Whale, or Orca.

A few facts about Orcas:

The orca, or killer whale, with its striking black and white coloring, is one of the best known of all the cetaceans. It has been extensively studied in the wild and is often the main attraction at many sea parks and aquaria. An odontocete, or toothed whale, theorca is known for being a carnivorous, fast and skillful hunter, with a complex social structure and a cosmopolitan distribution (orcas are found in all the oceans of the world). Sometimes called “the wolf of the sea”, the orca can be a fierce hunter with well-organized hunting techniques, although there are no documented cases of killer whales attacking a human in the wild.

The Orca, like all dolphins is a member of the scientific family: Delphinidae.

The Second are the two species of Pilot Whale, the Long-Finned and the Short- Finned Pilot Whale.

A few facts about each Pilot Whale:

Pilot Whales are jet black or a very dark grey color. The dorsal fin is set forward on the back and sweeps back. The newborn whale’s dorsal fin is flexible at birth so as to facilitate the birthing process. The body is elongated but stocky and narrows abruptly toward the tail fin.

Males are less gracile in form than the females. Differences between long and short-finned pilot whales are quite subtle, and where their distributions overlap it is generally not possible to tell the species apart at sea. On land specimens may be distinguished by the length of flipper, the number of teeth and the shape of the skull: the Short-finned has a more bulbous head particularly in older males; the Long-finned is squarer, and the forehead is more likely to overhang the mouth. G. macrorhynchus was described, from skeletal materials only, by John Edward Gray in 1846. He presumed from the skeleton that the whale had a large beak (“macrorhynchus” in Latin).

Pilot whales, mother and calf, Kona, Hawaii

Birth weight of calves is roughly 220 lb. (100kg.). Adult males can reach up to 20 feet (6.1 m) and weigh up to 3 tons. Adult females measure up to 16 feet (4.9 m) and weigh up to 1.5 tons.[1] Life span is about 45 years in males and 60 years in females for both species.

Pilot whales, mother and calf, Kona, Hawaii

Both species live in groups of about 10 to 30 in number on average but some groups may be 100 or more. They are quite active and will frequently lobtailspyhop and approach boats.

Pilot Whales feed predominantly on squid. As compared to their other tooth-whale relatives they have many fewer teeth; numbering only 30 to 40 as compared to 120 in thebottlenosed dolphin. This is thought to be an adaptation to their squid eating diet.

Pilot whales are one of the the few animals that go through menopause. This is thought to be because they suckle their young for 14 years, which is a relatively long period of time.

Source: Wikipedia


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