What types of whales can you see in Louisiana?
Whale-watching is one of the most exciting adventures I can think of! These enormous, fascinating creatures have captured the imagination of many nature lovers.
Below, you will find pictures and descriptions of the whales found in Louisiana. I’ve also included RANGE MAPS and fun facts about each species.
Although there are many interesting facts about whales, I kept each description brief to cover all the species. So, you may want to consider purchasing the book below if you want more information.
2 WHALES in Louisiana!
- You might notice some of the animals below are dolphins instead of true whales. I included them here because “whale” is in the name or because most people consider them more whale-like. To see the 9 types of DOLPHINS that live in Louisiana, CLICK HERE.
#1. Pygmy Killer Whale
- Feresa attenuata
- Adults grow up to 8.5 feet long and weigh a maximum of 496 pounds.
- Their coloring is very gray to black all over, with a cape over the head and upper back that’s slightly darker than the rest of the body.
- They have small rounded heads and no visible beak.
Pygmy Killer Whales are one of the most elusive whales in Louisiana.
They prefer to stay in their pods, which they remain with their entire lives. When they come to the surface to breathe, they’re more likely to form a line and nap rather than engage in showy breaching displays.
This species likes to stay in the deep water outside the continental shelf, in tropical and subtropical water. Because of their affinity for deep water, it’s unlikely to spot them on a whale-watching tour. Even dedicated researchers have trouble observing Pygmy Killer Whales!
Though they avoid humans, they are very social with members of their species and form pods of fifty or more individuals if prey is plentiful. Pygmy Killer Whales eat squid, octopuses, and fish.
As you might imagine, this species becomes very aggressive in captivity, which is understandable given their pelagic lifestyles. They’re known to attack handlers and other dolphin species in captivity.
#2. Melon-headed Whale
- Peponocephala electra
Also known as the Melon Whale, Electra Dolphin, and Many-toothed Blackfish.
- Adults grow up to 9 feet long and reach a maximum weight of 460 pounds.
- Their overall coloring is medium gray, with a slightly darker “cape” over the head and back.
- They have a rounded head that comes to a point over the nose and tall dorsal fins.
Melon-headed Whales are playful and gregarious! You’re likely to catch this species breaching high above the water’s surface or riding the bow waves of boats. In addition, they often leap through the water athletically while swimming.
Melon-headed Whales have a clear routine, which makes them rather easy to observe. They hunt after dark when the squid and cuttlefish they eat are more likely to be active and nearer the surface. They rest in the morning, then spend the afternoon socializing and playing.
These whales are extremely social and are often spotted in groups of up to a thousand. Their social nature and large aggregations explain why Melon-headed Whales have successfully stayed more interconnected genetically than other species. Their large gene pool allows them to adapt to threats over time in a way that small, genetically-isolated populations cannot.
Do you want to learn about LAND MAMMALS found in Louisiana?
Check out this field guide!
25 COMMON Mammals in Louisiana! (ID Guide)
Which of these whales have you seen in Louisiana?
Let us know in the comments!