The natural subtropical ecosystem of the Everglades National Park is a habitat conducive for the existence of several species of animals, birds and marine life that can be seen on the airboat tours. One of the creatures you will come across is the Pilot Whale. The pilot whale is a small whale that lives mainly in tropical waters. They can be seen especially if you are travelling by boat. Here are ten interesting facts about the pilot whale of the Everglades National Park.
1. Pilot whales are the most widely distributed whales in the world. They are found both in temperate and tropic waters. In the warm water of the Everglades, the pilot whales have shorter fins as compared to their colder water counterparts.
2. These whales are usually black in colour, while some of them tend to be dark gray as well. Pilot whales are quite large in size. The males are the largest and grow up to 25 feet in length whereas the females are about 16 feet in length. Male pilot whales can weigh as much as three tons, while the females tend to be only half that.
3. Pilot whales are rarely seen as they like to swim in deeper waters. They are a very intelligent species and have been known to be easily trained when in captivity. They are also highly social in nature. They form groups of more than 100 members that swim together.
4. Pilot whales usually feed on things like octopus, squid, herring, and other small fish. Their primary an favorite food is squid. They have been known to consume about 70 pounds of food every day which is a rather less amount as compared to other whales of their size. A majority of their feeding activities take place at night.
5. Pilot Whales can move very fast in the water. They can swim very quickly in order to capture squid and other prey, which is why they have earned the nickname ‘Cheetahs of the Deep’.
6. Pilot whales work in groups to procure food for each other. They will form a circle around their prey and emit a high frequency whistle-like sound which mesmerizes the prey and stalls it in its tracks, making it easy for the pilot whale to consume it.
7. Females pilot whales mature at about 9 years of age and usually faster than the males. Males take about 15 years to reach maturity. Males aggressively compete for the attention of the female during mating season.
8. The gestation period of the pilot whale is about 15 months. Calves birthed are about 4 – 5 feet long and weigh about 135 pounds. They will nurse from their mother for about 2 years but may start eating solid food at 6-12 months. Some calves have been known to nurse from their mothers for up to 10 years. This usually happens when older females calve.