Pilot Whales in Tenerife

Globicephala macrorhynchus

Pilot Whale Sightings

The Short Finned Pilot whale is the cetacean species we most commonly observe on our Tenerife whale watching tours. The resident Pilot whale population along Costa Adeje, Tenerife, is one of the largest populations in the world! A wonderful opportunity for whale and dolphin watching in Tenerife.

Measured from the ocean floor Tenerife is the 3rd tallest volcanic island in the world. Rising  a total of 8 kilometres (4km underwater, 4km on land) the island has a steep and deep underwater topography very close to shore. This is the perfect conditions for the Pilot whales to live and hunt their favourite prey, the squid.

The Pilot whales of Tenerife live in matriarchal pods between 10 to 30 members. We can observe the different behaviours of the Pilot whales during our tours; resting, socialising, diving and hunting. We often see ‘nursery pods’ during the spring and summer when the baby Pilot whales are born here in Tenerife.

It is our pleasure to share respectful observations of Pilot whales with our guests. During our tours we are working towards ensuring a healthy and vibrant future for this very special population of Pilot whales in Tenerife.

Pilot Whale Info

The Short Finned Pilot whale is actually a cetacean of the toothed whale group. They are the second largest dolphin species behind only the Orca or Killer whale. In southern Tenerife the Pilot whales we observe are often in pods between 10 to 20 individuals but groups of up to 100 can be observed. They hunt in depths of 300 to 700 meters looking for their favourite prey, squid. Using echolocation the Pilot whales make dives of 10 to 12 minutes hunting in the dark. The Pilot Whales can also be heard communicating within the pod on our tours using our marine hydrophone.

Pilot Whales are one of the Dolphin species known as ‘Blackfish’. Their black to dark grey bodies do have lighter patches found on behind the dorsal fin and under the chin. The dorsal fin of the male and female is different in shape and size. Our tour photos are contributed to the local photo Identification Research and Conservation projects. Adult male Pilot Whales can grow over 7 metres in length and weigh over 3000 kg with the females up to 5 meters and 2000 kg.

Female Pilot Whales typically live between 45-60 years in family pods. These matrilineal pods are comprised of adult females and their offspring. Males associate with different pods during mating time to pursue the opportunity to mate.