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Species Description

Pygmy Sperm Whale

Kogia breviceps


Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Family: Kogiidae


The back is dark steel gray grading to lighter gray on the sides. The lips and under parts are white. There is a pale bracket-shaped mark behind the eye. A small toothed whale ranging in total length from 2 - 4 m (6.7 - 13.1 ft) and weighing more than 300 kg (661 lb.). At birth, calves range in size from 1.2 - 1.7 m (3.9 - 5.7 ft) in length and weigh as much as 54 - 79.8 kg (119 - 176 lb.). The dorsal fin is small and located to the rear of the midpoint of the back.

Life Cycle

The Pygmy Sperm Whale breeds in late spring or summer. A calf is born the following spring after a nine-month gestation period. The calf stays with the female for at least a year. Adult females produce a calf about every 2 years.

Natural History

This small toothed whale inhabits the deep waters of the open ocean where it forages for squid, cuttlefish, shrimp, crabs, and fish. A migratory species, the Pygmy Sperm Whale spends the warm summer months in northern seas and returns to subtropical waters in the fall. Pygmy Sperm Whales travel in a small pod of 3 to 6 individuals. Recordings of pulsed low-frequency, low-intensity sounds suggest that these whales may use echolocation to find food in dark ocean depths and to communicate with one another.


The Pygmy Sperm Whale inhabits warm waters from as far north as Nova Scotia in the summer to Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico in the fall and winter.

Conservation Status

Considered a relatively common species, The Pygmy Sperm Whale is protected from hunting or harassment by international agreement.

Similar Species

The Dwarf Sperm Whale is smaller, has a larger dorsal fin in the center of the back, and lacks a pale bracket-shaped mark behind the eye. new marine mammals/Kbreviceps