Kogia breviceps   (de Blainville,  1838) (Whale)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: 2.7-3.4 m;Length male 2.7-3.4 m, female 2.6-2.9 m

Weight: 400 kg

Color: 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 similarity of the animal’s appearance to that of a shark. The body may appear wrinkled in some individuals.

The Pygmy Sperm Whale has a shark-like appearance. It has a robust body with short head. In larger animals, the head is box-like or rectangular, at time 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 center of the back. The tail has a concave trailing edge. Present in the lower jaw are 10-16 pairs of thin, inwardly curved and sharp-pointed teeth, whilst no teeth are present in the upper jaw. These teeth have been described as being ‘strongly reminiscent of the teeth of pythons’. False gill markings and underslung lower jaw.

The number of teeth makes it easy to distinguish a dead Pygmy Sperm Whale from a Dwarf Sperm Whale Kogia simus. The pygmy sperm whales are somewhat longer and have more posteriorly set rounded and small dorsal fin. They are thought to be shy, slow-moving animals. They are often sighted alone but may form a group of 3-5 individuals. They are likely to be found motionless in the water, their tails hanging down loosely.
It feeds on deep water squid and octopus, fish, other invertebrates.

Synonym (s)
Cogia breviceps Benham, 1901
Euphisetes pottsi Tomilin, 1957
Euphysetes grayii Wall, 1851
Euphysetes macleayi Gill, 1871
Euphysetes pottsi Haast, 1874
Kogia brevirostris Gray, 1865
Kogia floweri Gill, 1871
Kogia goodei True, 1884
Kogia grayi Gill, 1871
Kogia greyi Trouessart, 1898
Kogia macleayi Gill, 1871
Physeter breviceps de Blainville, 1838

Common Name (s)
• Lesser Cachalot (English)
• Small Sperm Whale (English)
• Wongu (Telugu)
• Lesser Cachalot (English)
• Lesser Sperm Whale (English)
• Pygmy Sperm Whale (English)
• Short Headed Sperm Whale (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Accidentally caught in fishing nets. )

Habitat:  Open Sea
Prey:  Crab, squid and fish
IUCN Status:  Data Deficient


• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)
• Kerala, Trivandrum INDIA (Record: 02/1925)
• Andhra Pradesh, Vishakhapatnam INDIA (Record: 1866)
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair INDIA (Record: 08/07/1988)
• Andhra Pradesh, Waltair INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at - http://www.marinespecies.org
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at - http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at - http://tnenvis.nic.in
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at - http://tnenvis.nic.in/PDF/coastal%20data.pdf
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at - www.ias.ac.in/currsci/nov252002/1210.pdf
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at - eprints.cmfri.org.in/3975/1/Special_Publication_No_12_Revised.pdf
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at - http://zsi.gov.in/checklist/Marine%20mammals%20of%20India.pdf
  • Singh H.S (2003) Sea mammals in marine protected area in the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat State, India Indian Journal of Marine Science 258-262pp Available at - http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/4279/1/IJMS%2032(3)%20258-262.pdf
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at - http://nlbif.eti.uva.nl/bis/marine_mammals.php?menuentry=inleiding

Page last updated on:2012-11-07

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