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Individual identification


Short-finned pilot whales can be individually recognized using natural forms and markings of their dorsal fins and scars on adjacent body parts.


Click to see a close-up underwater video of a dorsal fin and skin lesions (.mov file with 4.4. MB)

Foto Next to the shape and markings of the dorsal fin, skin lesions can be used for individual identification. During its life span, a pilot whale interacts with conspecifics, predators, prey and sometimes with vessels and fishing gear. These interactions can result in slight or severe skin lesions (or even in severe injuries of the dorsal fin). Many older pilot whales show parallel, mostly sinuous and unpigmented scratches on their skins. The distance between each scratch line corresponds with teeth gaps of conspecfics. These scratches are a result of intraspecfic interactions and are called 'lovebites'. Attacks from predators such as sharks can leave wounds and scars on the skin surface.