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Dwarf Sperm Whale Kogia sima

The pygmy and dwarf sperm whales are two little known deep ocean dwelling cetaceans. Their habit of lying motionless near the sea surface far from shore makes them difficult to detect.  Pygmy sperm whales are though to be more pelagic and dwarf sperm whales more coastal (Reeves et al. 2002). Pygmy sperm whales have been seen from Japan, Hawaii, Washington State south to Chile and the Tasman Sea (Reeves et al.  ). Dwarf sperm whales are recorded from Japan to British Columbia south to New Zealand and Chile.

They usually occur alone or in groups of up to ten animals (Caldwell and Caldwell 1989). Females are sexually mature when they are 2.7 meters long, gestation in 9-11 months, calves are 1.2 m long at birth and nurse for a year (Wilson and Ruff 1999). It has a spermaceti organ. Stranded animals often have plastic bags in their gut likely as a result of their similarity to their squid prey. Both species have a unique defense. Upon attack they evacuate dark red-brown syrupy liquid into the water which when stirred up with the flukes, conceals their presence to predators (Scott and Cordaro 1987, Long 1991). The total length is about 2.7 meters and weight is about 320 to 400 kilograms. They have ten sharp teeth on the lower jaw and lack teeth on the upper jaw (Caldwell and Caldwell 1989). Pygmy sperm whales utter clicks to communicate (Santoro et al. 1989).


 Dwarf Sperm Whale Facts:

Length: 3 meters

Weight: 400 kg

Food: squid and octopus

Social Status: Commonly found in groups of 3 - 5

Breeds annually to 1 calf

Gestation: 11 months

Newborn: 1.2 meters long

IUCN Red List Status: Lower Risk



 Dwarf Sperm Whale Distribution Map

Dwarf Sperm Whale Distribution Map



Caldwell, D. K. and M. C. Caldwell. 1989. Pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps; dwarf sperm whale Kogia simus. Pp.235-260 in (S. H. Ridgway and R. Harrison (eds.). Handbook of marine mammals: river dolphins and the large toothed whales. Academic Press, London.  


Long, , D. J. 1991. Apparent predation by a whale shark on Carcharodon carcharias on a pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps. Fisheiry Bulletin 538-540.


Reeves, R. R. B. S. Stewart, P. J. Clapham and J. A. Powell. 2002. Guide to marine mammals of the world. National Audubon Society, New York.


Santoro, A. K. I. Marten, and T. W. Crawford. 1989. Pygmy sperm whale sound Kogia breviceps. Pp. 59 in Abstracts of the 8th Biennial Conferenc eon the Biology of Marinn Mammals. Pacific Grove, CA, USA.


Scott, M. D. and J. G. Cordaro. 1987. Behavioral observations of the dwarf sperm whale, Kogia simus. Marine Mammal Science 3:353-354.


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