Common Name: Pygmy Sperm Whale
General Description: The Pygmy Sperm Whale has a sharklike appearance. It has a robust body with a short head. In larger animals, the head is boxlike or rectangular, at times bulbous. The lower jaw ends well behind the tip of the snout. There is no beak and the tail stock is narrow.
The flippers are situated well forward on the body. They are wide at the base, tapering to a point. The low and sickle-shaped dorsal fin is positioned behind the centre of the back. The tail has a concave trailing edge.
Pygmy Sperm Whales are dark bluish grey above, shading to lighter grey behind, and fading gradually to a dull white or pink on the belly. The outer margins of the flippers and the upper surfaces of the tail flukes are steel grey. On each side of the head behind the eye is a crescent shaped light mark with a darker line behind it called the false gill, which accentuates the appearance of a shark. The body may appear wrinkled in some individuals.
Size: Adults, The length is up to 3.4 m, and the weight about 400 kg. Calves at birth,1.2 m long, weigh around 55 kg.
Appearance At Sea: Pygmy Sperm Whales are thought to be shy, slow-moving animals. They have often been sighted alone, but may form social units of three to five individuals. They are likely to be found motionless in the water, their tails hanging down loosely. When alarmed they defecate and dive through a rust-coloured fecal stain that slowly spreads over the water.
Found In: Pygmy Sperm Whales are primarily deep ocean species. They tend to stay close to or over trenches and canyons off the continental slope. They feed primarily on squid.
Records from India: From India, there are no confirmed records of the Pygmy Sperm Whales.
The species has been reliably reported, however, from Sri Lanka, where it is accidentally caught in fishing nets.
World Distribution: The species is found in nearly all tropical and temperate seas.
Could Be Confused With:There is a possibility of confusion with the Dwarf Sperm Whale. The two species can be distinguished as follows:
Diagnostic Features: At sea, the size (up to 3.4 m long), false gills, low and sickle-shaped dorsal fin, rust-coloured fecal stain left by the whale when alarmed.
Stranded Specimens: Present in the lower jaw are 10 to 16 pairs of thin, inward curved and sharp-pointed teeth, whilst no teeth are present in the upper jaw.