Pygmy sperm whales are toothed whales named after the waxy substance—spermaceti—found in their heads. The spermaceti is an oil sac that helps the whales produce sound. Like squids, pygmy sperm whales can produce a dark, ink-like liquid that helps them escape from predators. Pygmy sperm whales are found in temperate and tropical seas worldwide.
Pygmy sperm whale
Pygmy Sperm Whale | NOAA Fisheries
The pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps is one of two extant species in the family Kogiidae in the sperm whale superfamily. They are not often sighted at sea, and most of what is known about them comes from the examination of stranded specimens. The pygmy sperm whales was first described by naturalist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville in He recognized it as a type of sperm whale and assigned it to the same genus as the sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus as Physeter breviceps. In , mammalogist Theodore Gill assigned it and Euphysetes now the dwarf sperm whale , Kogia sima to the subfamily Kogiinae , and the sperm whale to the subfamily Physeterinae. In , naturalist James Hector synonymized the dwarf sperm whale with the pygmy sperm whale, with both being referred to as K.
Pygmy Sperm Whale
Like dwarf sperm whales, pygmy sperm whales have an unusual trick. To throw potential attackers off guard, they eject a reddish-brown cloud of intestinal fluid in the water before diving and making their escape. Other names: Lesser cachalot, short-headed sperm whale, lesser sperm whale. The strong bodies of pygmy sperm whales glide through the water with ease. Leading the way with squarish heads, they have small, underslung jaws that contain between 9 and 16 pairs of teeth in the lower jaw and up to 3 pairs in the upper.
The pygmy whale is not currently on exhibit. This information is supplied for use as a reference. Tropical, subtropical, and temperate seas waters of the world ocean as far north as the northern tip of Scandinavia and as far south as Cape Horn at the tip of South America.