Short-finned Pilot Whales are frequent visitors to the Galapagos Islands, seen around the archipelago in large numbers with the arrival of the nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current. They are recognized by their bulbous heads, black and dark gray coloring, and prominent dorsal fins along the forward parts of their bodies that change in color and shape depending on the age and sex of the mammal.
Often spotted from decks of cruise ships between destinations, pods of short-finned pilot whales are an impressive and important part of the Galapagos marine eco-system, giving those who make the journey a glimpse into the vast underwater world of the islands.
The whales are members of the dolphin family, and are sleek and slender when young, gaining weight and girth as they grow older. A fully grown whale can weigh as much as four tons, and measure up to 6.5 meters in length.
The only pilot whales found in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the creatures are companions to bottle-nosed and common dolphins in the open sea. The distant cousins share feeding grounds; making the journey around the islands in search of squid, small fish, and octopus.
The social creatures prefer deep waters and are often found in large pods of up to sixty members. They are easily approached by boat and feed at night. During the day they travel around the archipelago and are seen grazing in different regions of the islands.