The pilot whale is a high-flying member of the dolphin family and can be seen making audiences smile during the spectacular “Blue Horizons” show at SeaWorld San Diego, alongside Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Let’s dive in and get the details on these fascinating animals:
- Pilot whales typically eat squid, some fish, squid and more squid – pilot whales are known to eat 5% of their body weight per day, which is a lot of squid when you consider males can weigh up to 3 tons while females usually tip the scales at around 1.5 tons.
- The name "pilot whale" is believed to originate from the idea that the pods were piloted by a leader whale. This social species can often be found in groups ranging from 20 to 90 whales. Pilot whales typically exhibit strong herding behavior, and are one of the most common species to engage in mass strandings – like the one that happened this past May in the Florida Keys.
SeaWorld Orlando is currently caring for two pilot whales found stranded in May, 2011. The whales have been nicknamed “301”, or Fredi, and “300”, who was recently fitted with a custom orthopedic brace to treat scoliosis, a serious medical problem where the spine of a vertebrate animal begins to curve. This marks the first time an orthopedic device of its kind has been used on a large whale. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) believes these two whales are unable to be returned back into their natural environment due to their age and advanced medical needs. Not to worry, though – SeaWorld's experienced animal experts have rescued, rehabilitated and cared for thousands of ill, injured or orphaned animals since 1965. SeaWorld’s goal is to return animals back the water, but those deemed unable to be released, like these two whales, have found a permanent home at our parks and will continue to receive long-term care.
For more information about the ways we have rehabilitated and cared for pilot whales, check out these articles on our blog: