On-board Diary: Pilot Whales in Asturias

Author: Silvia García
Date: June 26, 2008



Today we are going to do research in the Avilés Canyon. For hours, we zigzag with the boat in order to create a complete profile of the seabed with the computers on board. That way we can decide which area we are going to film. The steeper the slope, the more species we are likely to find, because specific species appear as depth increases or decreases.

Heading towards the port of Gijón, some 18 miles away, we have been lucky enough spot a group of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). These cetaceans are known as “long-finned” because their pectoral fins are very long and can measure up to one-fifth of their total body length. They can be found in temperate and subpolar waters in all oceans, except the North Pacific. They are jet black or dark grey and have a characteristic, bulbous and round forehead. Interestingly, the ones that came closest were a mother and calf, barely two meters long. We really enjoyed seeing them. As always, we took notes on the sighting: species, position, depth, time and behaviour.