Whales observation in Chile-guide.

Whales in the southern waters of Chile.

Whales in the southern waters of Chile.

With more than 4000 kilometers (2485 miles) long, Chilean coasts are extremely abundant and rich on marine resources.

Chilean sea extends on the Pacific Ocean surface located next to the continental, Antarctic and insular Chilean territory. It has big oceanic extensions which extends from the under tropic – in the very north – to the Antarctic waters, all the way through the south.

In these waters, 50% from the 87 cetacean species that exist in the whole world can be found. This figure includes three from the main whale families, all the sperm whales, 19 kinds of dolphins, various species of porpoises and a significant amount of Cuvier’s whales – the less known cetacean family. Some of these are endemic species which only inhabit these waters.

Whales  have survived the most dramatic changes in terms of terrestrial distribution,  aquatic environments and even sweet water rivers. But – despite the fact that they have shown adaptation skills – their survival is deeply related to the conditions of the environment they are into.

Human activities introduce significant changes in the marine environment affecting the survival from a large amount of species. This fact – together with the indiscriminate hunting from some countries which earn profit from their exotic meats – have taken them into a highly vulnerable situation.

Protective measures worldwide have been taking  and  international treats have been established in order to preserve them. Chile is one of the countries where whales are protected by law, holding protected areas all around the country to protect these amazing marine animals.

From the different kind of cetacean species which live in Chilean waters,  19% of them are now at risk of extinction and about 5% are considered vulnerable.

The coast and Oceanic Chilean waters have a great biological diversity  due – mostly – to its salinity and temperature, influenced by the sea currents. The most important one is Humboldt, which goes from Chiloé to the North of Chile. These waters are normally cold and rich in terms of oxygen and plankton which explains the existence of a significant number and varied marine life. This – together with the Antarctic General current located in the south side of the continent, which cold waters encourage the presence and development of cetaceans in the national territory.

Chilean coasts play an essential role as a corridor and feeding area for these species. Every spring, whales from the southern hemisphere move from the hot latitudes – where they mate and deliver their babies – to the feeding areas located in austral waters and the Antarctic area, rich in essential species for these animal’s diet, such as krill, small crustaceans and fish.

In this context, one of the richest and relevant coastal habitats is located in the south of Chile – in the area of Chiloé and Corcovado – as well as the fjords and austral water streams. Every year, eight from the twelve species of big whales that exist worldwide reach Chilean coasts what – given their topographical conditions and the depths of their waters – let these interesting animals to come closer to the coast than in other countries what let as see them from the ground.

Although in 1986 Chile signed a treat which encouraged the moratorium about whales’ commercial exploitation, the scientific interest about them is relatively new. In the last years they had rediscovered real marine sanctuaries which have caught the interest of real marine sanctuaries which has developed interest among the scientific community and a lot of people who try to protect these marvelous and fragile ecosystems.

Chile is one of the countries with a greatest development potentiality in the aspect of tourism in relation to cetaceans. It is enough to say that Chile is the only country in the whole world in which it is possible to see the blue whale from its coast.

That is why there are a lot of research groups which aim is to study these mammals and the environments in which they live, concentrating their efforts in knowing them deeply and in that way to try to protect and preserve them. But this does not only have a scientific purpose, because it helps significantly to the final aim of transforming Chile in a tourist destination for whale observation.

Chile has recognized its essential role in the whale protection, reason for which it has signed different treats and international conventions which point to this aim.

One of them is the International Whale Commission which aim is to promote the correct preservation of the whales stocks and – like this – to develop a regulated whale industry. Since 1986 they established the suspension of the commercial hunting of all whale species because – after one century of indiscriminate exploitation – they were about to extinct, focusing exploitation in scientific activities and those related to observation tourism.

Local legislation has prohibited hunting or capture of any kind of cetaceans as well as its importation. They have also created a certain amount of Protected Marine and Coast Areas (AMCP) all around the country in order to contribute to the cetacean preservation and other species that live in the national territory, limiting men intervention in these places. They have established two criteria for the creation of Protected Marine Areas. One of them includes more commercial interests and biddings in big investments and another one which follows a mainly biological criterion and the technical management of the marine resources. That is why they haven’t dealt with those cases that correspond to the zones that need a more urgent protection biologically speaking, but it had privileged those areas that – despite their relevance for biological diversity – imply big investments.

Some if the Marine Protected Areas are the following:

  • Caldera, III Region
  • Chañaral Island, III Region
  • Choros Island and Damas, IV Region
  • Bahía Mansa, X Region
  • Francisco Coloane Marine Park, XII Region.

A very important zone for cetacean preservation and which needs to be protected is the area that surrounds Chiloé Island and Corcovado Gulf in the X and XI Region, so probably they will soon be transformed into a marine protected area.

Sites  for Cetacean Observation in Chile

The main places in Chile for developing cetacean observation tourism are the following:

A. Humboldt Penguin National Reserve

In this National Reserve located between the III and the IV Region, it is possible to see how dolphins and whales swim freely  in a protected habitat. It includes  three islands: Choros and Damas in the north border of the IV region – near La Serena – and Chañaral de Aceituno in the south border of the III region.

It has that name because this is the place that the Humboldt penguin – endemic specie from this cold water stream – chooses for making its nests. The reserve holds and protects more than 14 thousand animals of this kind and it is also habitat of sea lions, seals, chungungos and 42 kinds of birds. The space also serves as a habitat for a group of bottle nose dolphins which – during summer – joints together with the whales and play while they are observed by those people who visit the park.

Chañaral Island Marine Reserve – which is part of this reserve – was created the year 2005 and consists of the sea area located one nautical mile around the island’s coast perimeter.

In this zone there is a significant biological diversity which includes about twenty cetacean species. Chañaral Island Zone is also the origin of the group of bottle-nose dolphins most recognized in the country.

On the other hand, Choros and Damas Islands Marine Reserve was also created in 2005 and consists of a sea zone of one nautical mile around Choros and Damas Islands’ coast perimeter.

In this place there is also a significant biological diversity which includes several cetacean species. This places received a group of bottle-nose dolphins from Chañaral Island in 1991.

In these places they try to develop a sustainable and safe cetacean observation tourism which doesn’t risk the integrity of those species that live in there where those who participate mostly are small fishermen and zone’s inhabitants.

The access to these places has modernized in the last few years, reason for which it is possible to get there in any kind of ground transportation. In terms of infrastructure it has cabins, camping sites and restaurants where you can taste local food based on the local fishermen.

Among the activities that can be performed in here the most remarkable are – apart from the cetacean observation tourism – visit to the nesting area of the Humboldt Penguin and other birds in small boats, diving in areas with a great biological diversity and visiting the only resident population of bottle-nose dolphins in the whole country.

B. Chiloé and Corcovado

This area – located between the X and the XI Region – is composed by a lot of channels, fjords and islands which main characteristic is related to the significant diversity of Flora and Fauna. In the last time it had attracted the interest of a lot of people because of the presence of blue whales in its coasts.

In this area they have developed local efforts in order to promote blue whales observation tourism – a unique experience in the whole world because just in this place of the world they have registered coastal views of this amazing marine animal that faces and extinction danger in these days.

The number of blue whales is significant during summer, but some scientists from the area say that there is a group that stays in those waters all year round but they can hardly be seen.

This area implies a significant risk for cetaceans since the fishing activity developed in the area affects the marine environment. On the other hand it is necessary to regulate the activity related to the cetacean observation tourism because if this is performed massively, it impacts badly the cetacean populations.

That is why – before exploiting tourism in this area – it is necessary to perform all necessary scientific studies to let sustain this legislated activity without risking those cetaceans that live in the area.

C. Francisco Coloane Marine Park

Francisco Coloane Marine Park is the first aquatic reserve in Chile. It is located in the XII Region, near Punta Arenas and it is about 670 squared kms (416 squared miles) around Carlos III Island.

This is the first protected marine area in Chilean waters and here it is possible to find cetaceans such as humpback whales, minke whales and Southern Right whales. The observation of these cetaceans is frequent in this area which has protected nautical conditions and beautiful landscapes.

Other species that can be seen are: Peale’s dolphin, Commerson’s dolphin, Burmeister’s Porpoise, Southern right-whale dolphin, Fin Whale, Pygmy blue whale and sperm whales.

Francisco Coloane Park is the first place in Chile that has official regulations regarding the cetacean observation tourist activity. In this place there is a company called Whalesound which offers whale observation under strict regulations in terms of respect to the environment.

The observation season begins in November and finishes in May, its peak is between January and April. In the area you can also practice excursions to the penguin’s nesting areas, seal communities and a glacier.

Cetacean species in Chile

Cetaceans can be odontocetes – meaning they have teeth – and mysticetes which correspond to the whales.

Among the mysticetes there are four families, three of them can be found in Chile. This sub groups are: Balaenopteridae, or rorquals, Balaenidae y Neobalaenidae. Among the odontocetes there are ten families, five of which can be found in Chilean waters. Among them, the most remarkable are dolphins, sperm whales, porpoises and Cuvier’s whales.

I. Mysticetes or Whales:

  • Balaenopteridae family or rorquals

Blue Whale:

This animal – which is the largest in the whole world – can be found in all the oceans, mainly in deep waters. It migrates to Antarctic waters during summer and returns to warm waters in winter. It can reach 33 meters (108 feet) long and weights between 80 and 160 tons. Its skin pigmentation is gray with small clear marks that reflect the light under the water what make them look blue.

It eats zoo plankton, Cephalopoda, amphipods, Copepoda and Louisiana crayfish. It can be found in a couple or alone but they seem to join together at the feeding areas. They move slowly but can increase their speed up to 30 kms/hr (18.6 miles per hour) and immersions of at least 150 meters (492 feet).

Now it faces an extinction risk because of the unregulated hunting it faced last year.

Humpback Whale

Mainly coast animal which – during migration and at the Antarctica area – is related to the pelagic area. It lives in all the oceans; it reproduces in the tropic and migrates to the Antarctic zones to eat.

It has a thick body in black or gray and white chest and neck, it can be 15 meters (49 feet) long and weight almost 40 tons. Its head is wide and rounded and present “warts” and colonies of small crustaceans It has a humpback that becomes noticeable when it arches its back before diving.

It mainly feeds with Krill and small fish banks – generally in the surface. They normally conform groups of ten – to raise and eat – although there are generally small groups conformed by 1 to 3. Is the most acrobatic whale and it frequently jumps outside the water exposing their chest. During the mating period the male sing certain melodies to seduce the females.

It is considered a vulnerable specie all over the world. Its main threats are the fishing nets, pollution and human intervention in their habitats.

Minke Whale:

It is mainly pelagic, but they can also be seen near the coast. It lives in tropical waters – warm and polar – all over the world. In the southern Hemisphere – during summer – can be seen at the south of the 55ºS

Is the smallest rorqual that is less than 11 meters (36 feet) long and weights between 6 and 9 tons. Generally its color is white or gray in the back and white in the chest and in the inner side of the pectoral fins.

It mainly feeds from krill and small fish and crustaceans In the feeding area a significant amount of them can be seen, even up to 2000. The rest of the time it can be found individually or in groups conformed by 2 or 3. It is quite acrobatic and can reach a swimming speed of 30 km/hr (18.6 miles per hour).

It has a low risk status in terms of preservation, its main threat are the scientific investigation programs developed by countries that belong to the IWC, Japan keep hunting them at the Antarctica and North Pacific.

Sei Whale

It lives in all the oceans, especially in the median latitudes and pelagic areas, migrating to Antarctic waters to eat. It can reach up to 18 meters (59 feet) and has a dark grey color with clearer oval scars and whiter areas in the chest. Its main characteristic is a unique and prominent wrinkle in the face from the nasal holes to the end of the mouth.

It mainly eats krill but also squids and fish of up to 30 centimeters (1 feet) long. To do it, they swim regularly in the water surface with their mouth open taking their food.

It is probably the fastest whale, reaching up to 50 km/hr (31 miles per hour). They can normally be seen in groups from 2 to 5 individuals, but in the feeding zone greater groups can be seen.

They are worldwide considered in an extension risk.

Bryde’s Whale

It live in warm and tropical waters at the Pacific, Atlantic and Indic Ocean, generally between 30ºN and 30ºS. In Chile its presence is almost exclusive at the pelagic zones of the north of the country.

Its main characteristic are three prominent wrinkles that projects – centrally and laterally – from the nasal holes to the mouth. It is generally of a dark gray color in the back in where – sometimes – a bluish gray mark can be seen in the chest; the stomach is white or light purple.

It mainly feeds with fish and some crustaceans than can be found at  low depths .They can normally be seen alone or in couples, but in areas in which there is a great amount of fish they can be found in groups conformed by 10 or 20 species together with sea birds, sea lions, sharks and other cetaceans. It can dive up to 300 meters (984 feet) and sometimes is curious and approaches to the ships.

It is not at risk, but in Chile it is not widely known.

Fin Whale

It lives in all the oceans, from the tropic to the polar areas, mostly in pelagic zone. Is the second largest animal in the whole world after the blue whale and can reach up to 27 meters (88.5 feet) long. It has a silver gray color or darker in the back and the chest area is white. It has an asymmetric pigmentation in the head and some white beard to the right and grey to the left.

It mainly feeds from zoo plankton – mainly krill – that it finds in the circumpolar areas, apart from small fish and calamari.

It swims fast and dives at more than 230 meters (754.5 feet) deep. It can be normally found in couples of mother and child or in groups up to 10 individuals, but in the feeding zone more than 100 disperses elements can be seen.

It faces a risk of extension since the whale industry began hunting them once the blue whales were decimated

  • Balaenidae Family

Southern Right Whale

They can be found from 20º to 64º south latitude at the Atlantic and South Pacific Ocean, mainly in the coast waters. In winter they are found in warmer waters and during summer they migrate to colder and sub polar regions to find food.

They reach about 17 meters (55.8 feet) long and weight about 45 tons. Its body is rounded and its main characteristic is they have neither dorsal fin nor wrinkles under the mouth. It has certain callus in the nasal holes, chin and down lip where small crustaceans live. It has a bluish black color with irregular white marks in the chest and the neck.

Its main food is krill and other small organisms. They generally displace slowly and in the surface, but they can jump or move the fin, getting very near the coast.

In Chile they face extension risk and they are threatened by the continuous destruction of oceans and coast environments and by the fishing nets.

  • Neobalaenidae Family

Pygmy Southern Right Whale:

Its exact distribution is not really known but according to the observations and aground runs they are located in warm and circumpolar waters from the southern hemisphere. They can be coastal or pelagic and in Chile can be founded at Navarino Island.

It has a strong but small head and its trunk is thin and slender. It doesn’t have callus and has a gray color that becomes lighter in the chest area. It has a dark stripe from the pectoral fin to the eye. Females are bigger than males; they can reach 6.4 meters (21 feet) and weight about 4.5 tons. They eat copedops.

This specie has rarely been observed in the sea so there is an incomplete amount of information about its behavior. It seems to move slowly and make short immersions. They have been observed alone, in couples, in groups of 8 individuals and together with other cetacean species.

In Chile is not enough known and haven’t been commercially exploited but they have documented accidental deaths for getting trapped in the nets.

II. Odontocetes

  • Delphinidae

Commerson dolphin:

It can be found in South America, in the Chilean and Argentinean coasts, Strait of Magallanes and Falklands up to South Georgia Islands. They can reach between 1.4 and 1.7 meters (4.6 and 5.5 feet) long and weight between 40 and 60 kilos (88 and 132 pounds). It is a strong body specie and without a differencing mouth and its left pectoral fin tends to be serrated and with the shape of a saw. It has a black and white color where face, shoulders, fins, a mark in the chest and another one in the posterior zone of the chin are black, as well as the back pigmentation and the rest of the body is white.

It feeds from small fish that live near the coast, squids, krill and shrimps. It is a very good swimmer and lives in groups composed by dozens of animals.

In Chile they face an extinction risk and they normally die trapped in nets or captured to be used as bait for catching crabs and spider crabs.

Chilean Dolphin:

This is a Chilean endemic specie where can be found all along its coast between Valparaíso and Ambarino Island. In general it is a coast specie. They can reach between 1.2 and 1.7 meters (3.9 and 5.6 feet) and weight between 30 and 65 kilos (66 and 143 pounds). Its body is dark and has a white stripe in the chest area.

It feeds with fish, crustaceans and squids. It lives in groups from 2 to 15 individuals and sometimes up to 400. They normally swim in waters less then 1 meter deep (3 feet) and – in general – they are frightful animals which run away or keep far from the ships. They hunt in groups, creating a circle and each animal get to the center.

It is a specie that risks extension because they have been captured since the 1970’s. In the X Region it is still hunted by fishermen to be used as bait for fishing and capturing crabs.

Common dolphin and Long-beaked saddle back dolphin

It can be coastal or pelagic and live in all the warm, tropical and subtropical seas. In Chile it is normally pelagic and can be found between Arica and Concepción.

Their size is about 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) and weight around 75 kilos (165 pounds). It has a thin and slender trunk and the forehead extends slightly to the mouth which is normally long and narrow. They eat fish and squids which hunt in groups.

They are quite acrobatic and gregarious, conformed by groups from 40 to hundreds of individuals. In Chile it is a specie they don’t know enough.

Peale’s Dolphin:

It lives in the cold waters of Falklands, Argentina and Chile, generally in the coast. Its body is strong and has a dark color in the back, the caudal fin, the dorsal fin and the head. Its length can reach 2.16 meters.(7 feet)

They feed with fish and squids. They play a lot; they live in groups from 5 to 30 individuals that normally follow the ship. They can be easily seen from the shores of the Strait of Magallanes. In the XII Region they are considered vulnerable because they are followed and used as bait by not industrialized fishermen.

Hourglass dolphin:

It lives in the Antarctic Ocean and circumpolar waters from the southern hemisphere. It can reach 1.7 meters (5.5 feet) long and weight about 120 kilos (264 pounds). Its main characteristic is the white stripes along the sides what look like a sand clock.

They feed with small fish and squids or play around them. They go alone or in groups from 7 individuals, but groups of more than 40 can be seen. In Chile this specie is not enough known.

Dusky dolphin:

It lives in the southern hemisphere. It can reach 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) long and weight 150 kilos (330 pounds). The colors of the back may vary. The face is clear and has two colors in the dorsal fin.

It feeds from squids, fish and crustaceans It is quite fast, plays a lot and makes big acrobatic jumps, generally imitated by the rest of the group. They are very sociable and get near the people who take observation tours. In Chile it is considered vulnerable specie.

Southern Right-Whale dolphin:

It lives in pelagic and deep waters, in cold, warm and sub Antarctic areas from the southern hemisphere. It can achieve 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) long and 116 kilos (255 pounds), its body is straight and doesn’t have dorsal fin. Its black in the back and white in the chest.

It feeds with squids and fish. It jumps a large distance at a low height and it normally avoids ships. It can be normally found in groups of hundreds but you can see some others composed by more than 1000 individuals. In Chile is not common.

Stripped dolphin:

It lives in tropical and subtropical deep oceanic waters in the northern and southern hemisphere. It can live 58 years, reach between 1.9 and 2.6 meters (6.2 and 8.5 feet) long and between 90 and 150 kilos (198 and 330 pounds). It has a light and aerodynamic body, a grayish blue color in the back and pink or white in the chest. The sides are light gray with thin dark stripes that begin in the eye.

They eat small fish, squids and crustaceans They normally live in groups of between 100 and 500 individuals but groups of more than 3000 have been seen. They are fast and acrobatic, they jump up to 7 meters (23 feet) high and they frequently get near the ships.

Spinner Dolphin:

It lives in tropical, subtropical and warm waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indic Ocean in oceanic and cold areas. Its body is thin and has tree colors: dark gray, gray and white.

It feeds during nights with fish, squids, octopuses, krill and crustaceans They are very acrobatic and they can make several turns over themselves before returning to the water. Some of them approach to the ships and swim next to them.

Rough-toothed Dolphin:

It lives in the whole world in warm, tropical and subtropical waters deep when it is possible and far away from the coast. It reaches between 2.2 y 2.7 meters (7.2 and 8.85 feet) long and weight between 130 and 190 kilos (286 and 419 pounds). It has a primitive aspect and feed from cephalopods, calamari and gregarious fish than can be found in the deep.

It spends a little time in the surface because it hunts very deep. It lives in groups of 10 to 20 individual and it is considered a not enough known specie.

– Bottle-nose dolphin:

It lives in the coast area of warm, tropical and subtropical regions. In Chile they have been seen near Islands such as Juan Fernandez Archipelago, Sala y Gomez, Easter Island and Chañaral and Choros.

Its length can be 4 meters (13 feet) long and weights about 300 kilos (660 pounds), but they can reach 650 (1433). The color of the back is normally dark gray and the chest is white. It feeds with fish, octopuses, squids and cuttlefish

They live individually and in groups from 10 to 100 individuals. They are good swimmers and very acrobatic and they normally get close to the ships. They have a very complex social system and a cooperative behavior. Its main threat is its hunting for captivation.

– Short-finned pilot whale

It lives in tropical, subtropical and warm waters all over the world. In Chile they can be found from the north to the middle of the central zone, including Juan Fernandez Archipelago.

Its body is strong and its head rounded. It has a dark brown or gray color with a white stripe in the chest with the shape of an anchor and a stripe that begins behind each.

Their diet is composed by squids, octopuses and fish. They communicate through sounds and live in groups of between 10 and 60 individuals guided by a leader. It’s quite sociable and can be seen together with dolphins, especially bottle-nose

– Long-Finned Pilot Whale

They live in warm and sub Antarctica waters. Its body is strong and the head is rounded. It has long pectoral fins and its color is dark brown or grey with a white mark with the shape of an anchor in the chest area and a white stripe near the eye.

They eat squids, octopuses and fish. They live in very closed groups between 10 and 50 individuals. They swim compacted when they are in the surface, guided by a leader. It is very social and go together with other cetacean species.

Risso’s Dolphin

It lives in warm and tropical waters all over the world, generally in pelagic areas. In Chile they have been seen in Valparaíso and Strait of Magallanes.

Its length can be up to 4 meters (13 feet) and its color is gray. Its skin has a lot of spots and scars, mainly in adults. It eats squids, octopuses and fish. They live in groups from 3 to 50 individuals, but groups of more than 4000 have been seen. They normally follow other cetacean species. They can swim very quickly and perform acrobatics.

Killer Whale:

They live in cold waters with high concentrations of food in all the oceans all around the world, mainly in arctic regions and the Antarctica. It can frequently be seen near groups of seals or sea lions.

Is the biggest member of the Delphinidae family. They are mainly black with a gray mark behind the dorsal fin. It has a white oval mark behind the eyes, another white area under the caudal fin and another one that goes from the lower lip to the chest which then opens to the sides.

Is one of the greatest predators in the ocean and its varied diet including fish, pinnipeds, turtles, squids, birds, sharks and others.

It rarely relates to other species and creates groups from 3 to 25 individuals. They have a social system based on females, where the adult female is the group leader. It is a very cooperative system and they normally hunt as a team. Their sounds differ between the different groups of whales, having their own dialect. They can live up to 90 years.

Its main threat is the industrial captivation, where life expectancies reduce in 7 years. It is still hunted in some places.

False Killer Whale:

It lives in tropical, subtropical and warm waters in deep areas and mainly oceanic, but they also have been seen in the coast. Its body is thin and long and has a dark gray color – almost black – with a gray mark with a shape of a “W” in the chest.

It feeds with squids and big fish and sometimes small cetaceans, pinnipeds, and humpback whales. They create groups of between 10 and 50 individuals, but groups of hundreds have been seen. They swim quickly and make impressive jumps. By unknown reasons it is one of the species that runs aground more frequently.

Pygmy Killer Whale:

It lives in low latitudes of the Pacific, Indic and Atlantic Ocean. It prefers deep tropical oceanic waters but they are also seen in coastal areas. It can reach between 2.1 and 2.6 meters (6.9 and 8.5 feet) long and weight between 110 and 170 kilos (242.5 and 375 pounds). It has a dark gray color – almost black – and clearer in the sides and the mark of the chest with the shape of a “W”.

It eats squids, octopuses and big fish as well as other marine mammals. They live in groups of 25 to 50 individuals and they don’t normally get near the ships. It is quite aggressive specie and produces a sound that can be heard in the surface.

  • Sperm whales

Pygmy Sperm whale

It lives in tropical, subtropical and tempered seas, mainly oceanic and deep waters. Its length is 3.4 meters (11 feet) long and weights 408 kilos (900 pounds). Its head is almost squared and has no mouth. It has a gray bluish color in the back which is clearer in the sides and white in the chest. Behind the eye it has a mark similar to a gill half moon shaped slightly pigmented and highlighted by a posterior black line.

It moves slowly and feeds with fish, cuttlefish, deep shrimps and small squids. They are very shy and create groups of 3 and 6 individuals.

Dwarf Sperm Whale

It lives in tropical and subtropical regions, in deep waters when it is possible. In Chile this specie have only be seen in Valparaiso coast. It is similar to the pygmy sperm whale, but smaller. Its length is about 2.7 meters (8.8 feet) long and weights 270 kgs.

It moves slowly and eats fish, cuttlefish, deep shrimps and small squids. They create groups of a maximum of five individuals and rarely get close to the ships.

Sperm whale:

It is generally pelagic and can occasionally be found in bays and channels. Males can reach 18 meters (59 feet) long and females 13 (42.6 feet), they weight about 50 tons. It has a light brown to grayish blue color and its skin is rough.

They dive very deep and eat giant squids, octopuses, fish, crabs, small sharks and rays. They conform groups from 10 to 20 individuals, where female stay during all their lives.

Is the mammal with the deepest dives which can reach 3000 meters (9842 feet). They produce sounds called “click” which sometimes are performed in serials which might be used for communication or echolocation.

  • Porpoises

Burmeister’s Porpoise:

It just lives in South America, in warm and sub Antarctic waters. In Chile they can be seen from Arica to the Cabo de Hornos.

It can reach up to 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) and is generally of a dark color. In the anterior side of the dorsal fin shows a lot of lumps or truncated spines. It eats fish, small squids and crustaceans It is quite shy and disperses when ships get closer.

Spectacled Porpoise:

It is generally coastal and has a circumpolar distribution in sub Antarctic waters. In Chile they are seen in Tierra del Fuego, near the Argentinean border.

It is about 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) long, it is black in the back and white in the chest area. Its lips are black and has a black patch around the eye surrounded by white that look like glasses.

It feeds with fish and squids. They travel in small groups composed by 1 or 2 individuals and move slowly over the water.

  • Cuvier’s whales

It corresponds to the less known family among the cetaceans because they live in oceanic waters located far away from the coasts. They have a long mouth and that’s why they are called “picudas whales”

In Chile there are 10 species from the 20 known in the whole world and these are:

– Southern bottle-nose whale

– Shepherd’s Beaked Whale

– Gray’s beaked whale

– Arnoux’s Beaked Whale

– Blainville’s Beaked Whale

– Bahamondes’ Beaked Whale

– Cuvier’s Beaked Whale

– Hector’s Beaked Whale

– Layardi’s Beaked Whale

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