A pelagic species, measuring up to 6.0 metres in length, grey-black/dark brown in colour, with a grey/white patch on the chin, bulbous head, no ‘beak’ and a low rounded dorsal fin which is set well forward.
Long-finned pilot whales have a gestation period of 14.5 to 15 months. Calves are born between July and August, measuring 1.8 metres, are dependent for up to 22 months and measure approximately 2.3 to 2.5 metres in length when weaned. The species is found in groups of tens to hundreds of individuals and they feed primarily on squid, but will also supplement
This species is widely distributed in the North Atlantic, entering British coastal waters seasonally, primarily off northern Scotland, western Ireland and in the western English Channel.
Long finned pilot whales can form large, tight knit pods that may number into hundreds of animals. They will follow sick, injured or lost animals onto beaches and are, therefore, one of the species most likely to mass strand.
In recent years there have been a number of mass stranding incidents, mostly around Scotland, the largest of which involved over 70 animals.
A whale, dolphin or porpoise stranded on the beach is obviously not a usual phenomenon. These animals do not beach themselves under normal circumstances, and they will require assistance. Please DO NOT return them to the sea as they may need treatment and or a period of recovery before they are fit enough to swim strongly.
BDMLR RESCUE HOTLINE:
01825 765546 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
07787 433412 Out of office hours and Bank Holidays
RSPCA hotline (England & Wales): 0300 1234 999
SSPCA hotline (Scotland): 03000 999 999
You will receive further advice over the phone, but important things you can do to help are:
If you find a dead cetacean
The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) collects a wide range of data on each stranding found on UK shores. If you discover a dead animal, please contact the CSIP hotline and give a description of the following where possible:
Digital images are extremely helpful to identify to species, as well as ascertaining whether the body may be suitable for post-mortem examination.
CSIP has produced a useful leaflet that can be downloaded by clicking here.
CSIP hotline: 0800 6520333. Callers are given a number of options to ensure they reach the correct department. You can also use this number to contact BDMLR as there is an option for live animal strandings that transfers directly to us.