Are pilot whales carnivores?

Are pilot whales carnivores?

Are pilot whales and false killer whales the same?

Pilot whales are in fact one of the largest members of the dolphin family, but they are treated as whales for the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 . They were named pilot whales because it was thought that each pod followed a ‘pilot’ in the group.

The behavior of pilot whales is similar to that of common dolphins and they are friendly and curious in nature, often getting close to humans who are in the water.

Pilot whales are known for stranding themselves on beaches. The pilot whale received its name due to the belief that the pod follows a single leader. Pods of pilot whales have been observed being very protective of their matriarchs.

Short-finned pilot whales, like all marine mammals, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Pilot whales are one of the most docile species of animals found in the marine ecosystem. They can show aggressive behavior and curiosity when approaching unknown objects and might attack humans out of curiosity, but other than that, they are harmless.

Orcas compete for food with long-finned pilot whales and are potentially their predators. Evidence from orca stomachs shows they do occasionally eat pilot whales. But pilot whales can mob and chase orcas away, the only cetaceans seen defending themselves from the apex predator in this way.

Both species live in groups of 10–30, but some groups may number 100 or more. Data suggest the social structures of pilot whale pods are similar to those of “resident” killer whales. The pods are highly stable and the members have close matrilineal relationships.

What do long-finned pilot whales eat? Mainly squids and octopus; these cephalopods are definitely their favoured food. They do sometimes eat fish such as mackerel, hake, herring and cod. Their squid eating lifestyle is evident when looking inside their mouths as they have far fewer teeth than dolphins that prefer fish.

Long-finned pilot whale/Trophic level

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