Short-finned pilot whales in Hawai‘i

A short-finned pilot whale moving rapidly at the surface. Photo by Robin W. Baird

In our sample of over 2,000 sightings of odontocetes in Hawaiian waters since 2000, short-finned pilot whales are the most frequently encountered species, representing almost 25% of all odontocete encounters. We have been studying various aspects of the behavior and ecology of short-finned pilot whales in Hawai‘i, photo-identifying individuals in every group encountered (collecting over 80,000 photos), collecting biopsy samples being used for stock structure, pollutant, and trophic ecology studies (over 170 samples), and studying their diving behavior and movement patterns.

Female and newborn short-finned pilot whale, July 13, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster. This newborn is probably less than 12 hours old, since the dorsal fin is just starting to straighten.

Short-finned pilot whale with healed scar on head, July 13, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster.

Spyhopping pilot whale with remoras, April 24, 2008. Photo by Robin Baird.

Spyhopping pilot whale with wound from cookie-cutter shark, April 25, 2008. Photo by Dan McSweeney.

Daniel Webster attempting to deploy suction-cup attached time-depth recorder/Fastloc GPS tag on a pilot whale. Photo by Robin Baird.

Pilot whale with time-depth recorder/Fastloc GPS tag, April 28. Photo by Greg Schorr.

Short-finned pilot whales off Kaua‘i, June 26, 2008. Photo by Annie Douglas

Greg Schorr collecting samples from an exhalation of a pilot whale, May 14, 2008. Photo by Robin Baird.

Short-finned pilot whale spyhopping, July 8, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster.

Daniel Webster deploying a suction-cup attached Bioacoustic probe on a short-finned pilot whale, July 25, 2008. Photo by Robin Baird. This tag contains a hydrophone to record sounds around the whale as well as information on depth and underwater movements (using a 2-axis accelerometer). On July 25th we deployed two of these tags, with one remaining attached approximately four hours and the other remaining attached through the night. Both tags were recovered by researchers on the NOAA R/V Oscar Elton Sette.

Adult male short-finned pilot whale with suction-cup attached Bioacoustic probe, July 25, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster.

More photos and information on short-finned pilot whales encountered during our field projects can be found on our field project web pages

Below are a number of references on short-finned pilot whales

Return to the Hawai'i odontocete species page

Return to the Cascadia Research Hawai'i web page