The body of these species is grey to jet black, with a very characteristic white anchor-shaped patch at the chest. They also have unusually long pectoral fins, and a bulbous forehead. They are large dolphins, adult males growing up to 6.5m.
They are very social species, forming groups that tend to be long-lasting. Long-finned pilot whales can often be seen lob-tailing (lifting the tail out of the water and then bringing it down onto the surface of the water hard and fast in order to make a loud slap) and spy-hopping (the animal rises and holds a vertical position partially out of the water, often exposing its entire rostrum and head, to have a good look around). This species is distributed in the central part of the Strait of Gibraltar (Tarifa), coinciding with the areas of greatest depth.