Dwarf Sperm Whale

Scientific Name: Kogia simus
Other Names: Owen’s Pygmy Sperm Whale

The inconspicuous Dwarf Sperm Whale lives in the deeper waters of the globe’s oceans; often, far away from the shore. It is the smallest of all of the whale species, and even some dolphins. It is characterised by its square head and its slow, deliberate movements. It is most similar to the Pygmy Sperm Whale but is distinctive by its larger dorsal fin as well as the shape of this fin, with its pointed tip and concave trailing edge.

Drawings of Pygmy and Dwarf sperm whales – Dwarf Sperm Whale on the bottom.

Dwarf Sperm Whale on the surface.

The Dwarf Sperm Whale has a blue-grey or very dark grey stocky body with pale sides and belly. The skin sometimes appears to be wrinkled. The bottom jaw of the Dwarf Sperm Whale is under-slung, much shorter than the top. It has a characteristically square head and pointed snout that overlaps the lower jaw. The blowhole is situated very close to the front of the head and slightly to the left of centre.

False cream-coloured gills are situated behind each eye.

The pectoral flippers are short and broad, situated far forward on the body. Broad flukes (as tail fins are formally known) have concave trailing edges with a slight central notch.

The length of an adult Dwarf Sperm Whale is an average of between 2.1 and 2.7 metres (or between seven and nine feet). They weigh between 135 and 275 kilograms (or 300 to 600 pounds) at full size. These numbers are indicative of this whale’s far smaller make-up.

This whale species is slow and deliberate in its rising to the surface, then suddenly drops under the surface. It is not believed to approach people on boats and is, therefore, not often observed within its natural habitat.

Occasionally, the Dwarf Sperm Whale will be observed breaching, when it exits the water completely and then belly-flops or lands backwards on the water.

This species dives to about 300 metres or 985 feet down.

When it is distressed, it secretes a brownish-red fluid from its intestines before diving. This leaves a dark stain in the water and serves to confuse or distract threats.

Where to Find Them
The Dwarf Sperm Whale favours deep waters in temperate, subtropical and tropical area. Their numbers are concentrated on the edge of the continental shelf and it clearly prefers warmer water. They will go closer to the shore where there is particularly warm water; such as is the case in the Gulf of Mexico and South Africa.

The Dwarf Sperm Whale feeds mainly on squid, but also on small fish and crustaceans. It has up to six teeth in its top jaw and up to 26 on the bottom. These are used to crunch through the bones and shells of its prey.

The threats to the Dwarf Sperm Whale remain unknown.

For more information, please view: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov

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