Pigmy Killer Whale’s Secretive Life

The Pygmy Killer Whale (Feresa attenuata) is a small, secretive member of the dolphin family (Delphinidae).pigmy-whales-http-_dolphinjourneyscom_gallery_albums_month-of-september-2005_pkw2sized

It has some  physical traits in common with its cousin the orca. The rare Pygmy Killer is similar in size to other dolphins and may easily be confused at sea with other species, often the Melon-headed Whale. The body is robust and dark-coloured. The cape is particularly dark in tone. The head is rounded with no beak. The sides are lighter and the belly is often white. Several individuals have been seen with a white lining around the mouth and chin. The dorsal fin is tall and slightly sickle shaped. ( 1) Pygmy killer whales are small members of the dolphin group. They can reach a length of 8.5 feet (2.6 m) and weight of 380 pounds (170 kg).

They do not share well with each other in captivity. They can become extremely aggressive and sometimes will maim and kill one another.

Even in the wild, the Pygmy is difficult to approach. Some spy-hopping, breaching and other active behaviour has been recorded but it is not an acrobatic animal. These dolphins are groupies, usually about 10 to 30 form their pod but sometimes larger. Pods often swim abreast. Herds often strand  at Hawaii or in Brazil and after Hurricane Marlyn in 20000 in the British Virgin Islands. They have been observed attacking, killing and eating other cetacean species such as the Common Dolphin especially if  they are chasing the same prey tuna oe other fish and squid.

No migrations are known pygmy killer whales live in a region year around. Current population sizes for the different U.S. stocks are: Hawaii – 817; Western North Atlantic – unknown, only one sighting has been made, but these did not occur during population 800px-cetacea_range_map_pygmy_killer_whalesize surveys; Northern Gulf of Mexico – 410.  There are not enough data to determine trends in these stocks. See below for links to the most recent stock assessments for the U.S. populations.(2)

There are reports on the presence of hydrocarbon residues, including DDT, Dieldrin and PCBs in various tissues of three pygmy killer whales from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida.
Conservation Efforts
Pygmy killer whales are considered Data Deficient in the IUCN Redlist There are no known conservation efforts directed specifically at this species as they are poorly known. (2)


1. Excerpts Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_Killer_Whale



2. Excerpts and whale sounds:



Image courtesy of



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