Melon-headed Whale
Peponocephala electra


Other Names: Melonhead Whale, Many-toothed Blackfish, Little Killer Whale, Electra dolphin

Habitat: Offshore

Status: Unknown

Population: Unknown

Threats: Hunting/whaling and entanglement in fishing nets

Group Size: 100-500, as many as 2,000 at some gatherings (rare)

Fin Position: Center

Newborns: c.39 in (1m), Unknown weight

Adults: 7'-9'(2.1m-2.7m), c.335 lb.(160 kg)

Diet: Squid or octopus and fish

Teeth: 42-50 on top row, 42-50 on bottom row


Description

Dorsal fin:

- tall, falcate fin with pointed tip
- trailing edge is often damaged

Flukes:

- concave trailing edges
- slight notch in middle
- pointed tips
- broad flukes (narrower in females)

Flippers:

- long, pointed flippers
- one-fifth of body length; long, sharply pointed tip

Other characteristics:

- slim head tapering to blunt point
- dark "mask" on face
- dark cape (not distinctive at sea)
- slender tail stock
- bluish black, dark gray, or dark brown body
- elongated body shape
- gray or off white patch on underside (not distinctive at sea)
- indistinct pale gray anchor patch on chest
- head melon-shaped in profile
- white, light gray, or pink "lips"
- straight or slightly concave chin


Behavior

- makes low, shallow leaps out of the water when traveling fast, often creating a lot of spray as it surfaces and making it difficult to see any detail
- slow swimmers may lift head right out of water on surfacing
- usually wary of boats, but many observations are in areas where tuna boats regularly chase dolphins, so behavior may differ elsewhere
- known to bow-ride for short periods and breaching has occasionally been recorded
- sometimes spyhops
- tail stock arches strongly when diving
- highly gregarious and more likely to be seen in large pods than the Pygmy Killer Whale
- animals in a pod are often tightly packed and make frequent course changes
- known to strand in large numbers


Distribution

- tropical and subtropical offshore waters around the world
- distribution thought to be continuous across deep waters in tropics and subtropics, though few records
- appears to be relatively common in the Philippines (especially around Cebu Island) and along the east coast of Australia, and occurs year-round in Hawaii
- most sighting are from the continental shelf seaward, and around oceanic islands
- rarely found in warm temperate waters (northern extremes of range likely to be associated with warm currents) and seldom ventures close to land
- no migrations are known, and are unlikely
- may be more common than the sparse records indicate



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