Pygmy Sperm Whale
Kogia breviceps

Other Names: Lesser Sperm Whale, Short-headed Sperm Whale, Lesser Cachalot

Habitat: Offshore

Status: Unknown

Population: Unknown

Threats: Unknown

Group Size: 3-6

Fin Position: Far behind center

Newborns: 4 ft (1.2 m), 120 lb. (55 kg)

Adults: 9-11 ft (2.7-3.4 m), 695-880 lb. (315-400 kg)

Diet: Squid or octopus, and occasionally fish, and krill or other crustaceans

Teeth: 0 on top, 20-32 on bottom


Dorsal fin:

- tiny, slightly hooked, falcate dorsal fin
- height less than 5% of total body length


- broad, concave trailing edges
- slight notch in middle


- broad, short flippers located far forward on body

Juvenile Head:

- pale circular mark in front of eye (variable)
- more pointed head than adult

Other characteristics:

- distance from snout to blowhole more than one-tenth of body length
- blowhole displaced slightly to left
- squarish head looks conical when viewed from above
- dark, steel gray to blue-gray back
- underside paler than rest of body and may be pinkish in color
- body may appear wrinkled
- false gill
- tiny, underslung lower jaw


- rises to the surface slowly and deliberately and, unlike most other small whales, simply drops out of slightly
- may occasionally breach, leaping vertically out of the water and falling back tail first or with a belly flop
- rarely approaches boats
- blow inconspicuous and low
- when startled, may evacuate a reddish brown intestinal fluid and then dive, leaving behind a dense cloud in the water; this may function as a decoy, like the ink of a squid
- some records suggest that, when resting at the surface, it floats higher in the water than the Dwarf Sperm Whale


- deep temperate, subtropical, and tropical waters beyond the continental shelf
- poorly known, though lack of records of live animals may be due to inconspicuous behavior rather than rarity
- most information is from stranding (especially females with calves), which may give an inaccurate picture of distribution
- seems to prefer warmer waters
- mainly a deep-water species and, unlike the Dwarf Sperm Whale, is usually seen beyond the edge of the continental shelf
- appears to be relatively common off the southeastern coast of the USA and around southern Africa, southeastern Australia, and New Zealand
- not known whether these populations are isolated

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

Return To Gulf of Mexico Species
Return To Cetaceans of the World

e-mail suggestions or questions to

This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet