Pygmy Sperm Whale

Pygmy Sperm Whale

Pygmy sperm whales and humans
The scientific community still knows comparatively little about the elusive Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) and this species is seldom sighted at sea. A lot of our knowledge comes from research performed on washed-up Pygmy sperm whales. Their primary food source seems to be squid and crabs. Plastic bags are sometimes found inside the stomach of washed-up Pygmy sperm whales and whale experts suspect that the Pygmy sperm whale might confuse plastic bags for squids in the water. Compared to the larger whale species, the Pygmy sperm whale have been left comparatively alone by whalers. Whalers based on land have hunted Pygmy whales from Japan, Indonesia and the Lesser Antilles, but only on a smaller scale. Pygmy whales sometimes become entangled in drift nets, but we still do not know if drift nets have had any significant impact on the Pygmy whale population.

Pygmy sperm whale – range and habitat
The Pygmy sperm whale lives in temperate environments in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. As mentioned above, we know very little about their life and habitats since a majority of the scientific studies have been performed on stranded Pygmy sperm whales. The Pygmy sperm whale is believed to spend a lot of its time in off-shore regions. It is usually considered to be a rare animal, but instances where plenty of stranded animals have been found might indicate that the Pygmy sperm whale population is much larger than we assume. 

Pygmy sperm whale – description
The Pygmy sperm whale is much smaller than the Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus. An adult Pygmy sperm whale is usually around 3.5 metre long and therefore of roughly the same size as large dolphins. The adult Pygmy sperm whale will rarely weight over 400 kilograms. When the Pygmy sperm whale is born has a length of approximately 120 centimetres. The back and the sides of the Pygmy sperm whale are of a bluish grey shade, while the underside is cream coloured or slightly pinkish. The head of the Pygmy sperm whale can look almost swollen when you look at the animal from the side, since it is very large compared to the rest of the body.

Pygmy sperm whale – spermaceti
Just like the other sperm whales, the Pygmy sperm whale has a spermaceti organ in its forehead. Spermaceti is a waxy, semi-liquid substance that was earlier believed to be whale semen. Why the Pygmy Sperm whale and its relatives have spermaceti organs is still not fully understood. There are currently three main theories, and it is not implausible that more than one of them is correct. The first theory suggests that the spermaceti organ functions as a form of battering ram. Male Sperm whales are known to fight each other violently when competing for females. The second theory proposes that the spermaceti organ helps the Pygmy sperm whale to adjust its buoyancy. The third theory suggests that the spermaceti organ is used for some form of echolocation. It might even make it possible for the Pygmy sperm whale to temporarily immobilize prey by emitting focused sound waves that acts as a form of stun gun.   

Whale & Dolphin Articles:

Beluga Whale
Beluga Whale Facts
Blue Whale
Blue Whale Facts
Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin Facts
Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale Facts
Sperm Whale


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