PYGMY SPERM WHALE
By Amelia Meyer
Scientific Name: Kogia breviceps
Other Names: Lesser Sperm Whale, Lesser Cachalot, Short-headed Sperm Whale
The Pygmy Sperm Whale, very similar to the Dwarf Sperm Whale in appearances, is seldom seen as it prefers living in the deep waters that are far away from the shore. For this reason, there is not much known about its behaviour and habits. It is usually seen when it is floating at the surface of the water, in its resting position, with its back and head bobbing lazily out of the water.
The small, stocky body of the Pygmy Sperm Whale is dark grey or blue-grey on top and pale on its belly. In some individuals, this paler belly has a slightly pink colouration. The body can appear wrinkled in many cases. Its blowhole is situated ahead of its eyes, on the top of its head, which is far further forward than most other whale species.
The dorsal fin is very small and has a slightly hooked appearance. The pectoral fins are wide and short and are situated relatively far forward on the body. The tail fin is broad, with concave trailing edges and a slight notch.
There is a light-coloured false gill situated behind each of the eyes.
These whales reach an adult length of between 2.7 and 3.4 metres (nine to 11 feet) and a weight of between 315 and 400 kilograms (or 700 to 880 pounds).
The lower jaw is small and very short, hanging below the upper jaw, which hangs over it. When they have been stranded, it is often this jaw that causes people to confuse it with a shark.
This whale is not likely to approach boats, preferring to stay within the comfort and security of its isolated ocean home. When it surfaces, it does so slowly and purposefully. Then, without warning, it will dip below the water again. When it does occasionally breach, it can get its entire body out of the water in a powerful surge and then fall back into the sea on its belly or back, tail first.
When it is taken by surprise, this whale may release a brownish-red intestinal liquid into the water, leaving behind a cloud that disorientates and distracts any threats. It then makes its escape.
Where to Find Them
This whale occupies deep tropical, subtropical and temperate waters in isolated spots all over the world. Their habitat is known based on strandings. When seen, it is usually beyond the continental shelf.
Pygmy Sperm Whale only have teeth in their bottom jaws (between 20 and 32 teeth), which are used to consume squid and, less commonly, crustaceans and small fish.
The threats to the this whale remain unknown