(Small pod of Short-finned Pilot Whales off Kofiau, Raja Ampat, West Papua)
Taxonomy: this taxonomic unit is treated as one species even though there is evidence that it may be a complex of two or more species.
This is very social species and is rarely seen alone. They are found in groups of ten to thirty, though some pods are as large as sixty. They are sometimes seen logging and will allow boats to get quite close. Mainly found in deep waters, typically in highest densities over the outer continental shelf or continental slope; feeds on vertically migrating prey, with deep dives at dusk and dawn following vertically migrating prey and near-surface foraging at night (Baird et al. 2003) and thought to be primarily adapted to feeding on squid. This species appears to be common off the Vogelkop Peninsula, West Papua as well as the Kimbe Bay, West New Britain. It would also appear to be one of the more abundant cetaceans along the northern coastline of mainland Papua. Apart from the records mentioned below there is a surprising lack of documented records of G. macrorhynchus, which is likely to reflect the lack of cetacean studies in Papuan waters. West Papua: ca. 8 individuals north of the Vogelkop on August 8th 1983; ca. 30 individuals near Adi Island on February 18th 1985; 2 sightings involving 5 individuals each near Adi island on February 23rd 1989; ca. 120 individuals north of the Vogelkop on 29 August 1991 (Rudolph, Smeenk & Leatherwood, 1997); occasionally observed off Kofiau and south-east Misool (Renosari, 2007); pod of ca. 18 individuals observed in deep waters (820m) in the Dampier Strait off north-eastern Batanta on November 2nd 2007 (Borsa & Nugroho, 2010); there is regular sightings of single individuals and small pods in the waters surrounding Kofiau, as well as in the Dampier Strait separating the islands of Waigeo and Batanta where it may be one of the more abundant cetaceans (I. Kiglezi pers. comm). Papua New Guinea: a pod consisting of 20 individuals off Bright Island, Milne Bay on 3 September 1991 (National Whale and Dolphin Sightings and Strandings Database). Munday (1994) summarized his own records as well as previous sightings from the Kimbe Bay, West New Britain, Bismarck Archipelago. It was also observed in the Kimbe Bay by Ingrid Visser in April 2003 (Visser, 2003); it would appear to be one of the most abundant cetaceans in the Kimbe Bay with pods consisting of 8-15 individuals being a regular sight (S. Hogberg pers. obs June-August 2009; I Khunko pers. comm); live sightings off Mbuke Island (southwest coast of Manus) on November 25th 2010 (Miller, unpublished data).