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After Tigers and Orcas Sighting, Watch Terengganu’s Latest Visitor: Short-finned Pilot Whales

Terengganu has become Malaysia’s wild wild West East lately after tigers and killer whales were spotted last week.

If two species of apex predators are not enough, Terengganu has welcomed yet another animal species who are at the top of the oceanic food chain − and that is short-finned pilot whales.

According to NST, a school of short-finned pilot whales was spotted on Wednesday (Jul 24) at Perhentian Island in Besut waters, about 30 kilometres from the beach. Just like the spotting of killer whales on July 16, it was the first time Terengganu sighted short-finned pilot whales.

Rantau Abang Fisheries Research Institute (FRI)’s Marine Mammals branch head Mohd Tamimi Ali Ahmad said the oceanic mammals were found swimming at a depth between 30 and 35 metres but were also captured on camera.

“The incident was captured by fishermen in a 39-second video clip. Based on the video recording and the fishermen’s conversations, they said the mammals are very large in size and in a big group, I believe they are short-finned pilot whales or its scientific name Globicephala Macrorhynchus because they have this habit of moving in a large group of 10 to 50,” he said in a statement today (Jul 26).

Despite having a “whale” on its name, short-finned pilot whales are considered part of the dolphin family. Mohd Tamimi said they could weigh between 1,000 and 3,000kg, grow up to three to seven metres in the body length.

Short-finned Pilot Whales. For illustration. Source: fineartamerica

Records at Rantau Abang FRI found that short-finned pilot whales were never sighted in Terengganu’s water before, however, Mohd Tamimi said they were spotted in Sarawak in 2013 and Labuan in 2015. The latter of which saw the mammals washed up dead at the shore.

This species of dolphins feed on squid, but will also consume certain species of fish and octopus. In the West of the United States, they are often spotted during the squid season but they will migrate once the area’s food supply depleted.

Source: NST

“The short-finned pilot whales are found in most waters around the world with the favourable habitats, far from the coast, slightly warmer water and has a high density of food such as squid… perhaps that’s why these whales were going through the Terengganu waters due to current squid season and turned the South China Sea as part of its migration route,” Mohd Tamimi added.

Short-finned Pilot Whales. For illustration. Source: NOAA Fisheries

Short-finned pilot whales are considered nearly extinct in some parts of the world such as Japan, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam due to overfishing. These countries favour the meat as it has a high level of protein within its soft texture.

Mohd Tamimi said this species of dolphins is listed as one of the endangered marine species in Malaysia and is protected under Section 27 of the Fisheries Act 1985. They are also protected under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

You can watch the full video below:

Read our previous coverage here:

Hopefully, more animals come visit Terengganu because we absolutely love hearing stories like this.

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below. 

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