Pygmy Sperm Whale

Pygmy Sperm Whale: Kogia breviceps

IUCN Status: data deficient

Status and distribution summary:

Little known small whale that favours the deeper continental shelf slopes and further offshore. Until 1966 considered part of single Kogia species.  Naturally scarce and difficult to see and identify at sea, so hard to determine population size. Occurs in warm waters, but including more temperate than Dwarf Sperm Whale, hence more likely to be encountered outside the tropics.

Exploitation: only occasionally included in coastal whale hunts.

Other threats:  

Significant incidence of fatality due to swallowing plastic bags. Likely to be vulnerable to seismic and sonar noise. Occasionally caught in fishing nets, and not considered sufficient to drive any decline.

Where it is seen:

Southern Bay of Biscay, over deep water.

Frequency of sightings:

Extremely rare.


Small, up to 3.5m. Usually only seen in calm sea states, when loafs at the surface.

  • Dark grey or blackish.
  • Tiny dorsal hooked fin set well back on the body
  • Blunt headed.
  • No visible blow.


Loafs at the surface in calm sea states. Shy, undemonstrative. Avoids boats.

Confusion species:

Dwarf Sperm Whale: very similar but smaller with much more obvious dorsal fin