Pilot Whales

Globicephala macrorhynchus

in southern Tenerife on Costa Adeje there are over 400 resident Pilot whales

Pilot Whales in Tenerife

The Short Finned Pilot whale is the cetacean species we most commonly encountered on Tenerife whale watching tours. This is a resident Pilot whale population of more than 400 cetaceans making it the largest population in the world! A wonderful opportunity for whale and dolphin watching in Tenerife.

Measured from the ocean floor Tenerife is the 3rd tallest 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 typically between 8 to 15 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 encounters of Pilot whales with our guests. We are working towards ensuring a healthy and vibrant future for this very special population of Pilot whales in Tenerife.

information on the resident population of short finned Pilot whales in Tenerife

Pilot Whale Info

The Short Finned Pilot whale is actually a cetacean of the dolphin species. 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 6 to 15 individuals but pods 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 5 to 8 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. So photos of the dorsal fins from our tours contribute to the Calderones de Canarias catalog. Adult Pilot Whales can grow up to 7 metres in length and weigh up to 3200 kg with the males being larger.

Pilot Whales typically live between 45-60 years in family pods. These matrilineal pods are comprised of adult males, females and their offspring. Aggregations during mating time do occur when males temporarily leave their pods to procreate.