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a close up of a dolphin in the dark

Pygmy Killer Whale
(Feresa attenuata)

Despite its name, the Pygmy Killer Whale possesses no actual similarities regarding behaviour or appearance to orcas but can easily be confused with False Killer whales at sea, with whom they share the same distribution.

Pygmy killer whales are highly social and are usually found in groups up to 50 individuals, although larger groups are also possible.

They are a rarely encountered species of dolphin but existing studies suggest that the animals have strong and stable bonds.

General information

Further names: Portuguese: Falsa-orca-pigmeia; English: Slender pilot whale; Slender blackfish

Size of adults: 2,60 m

Prey: Mainly fish and squid, have been observed hunting and harassing other smaller species of dolphin.

Behaviour: Generally evasive towards boats but will occasionally bow-ride, often seen logging at sea in calm waters.

Range: Tropical and subtropical regions (Pantropical) mainly further offshore. Can also be encountered around oceanic islands. 

Madeira: Very rarely encountered.  

Distinctive features: Small and slender body with a round head with white lips and a pale chin. Their bodies are dark-coloured with a tall, falcate dorsal fin.

Taxonomy: Suborder: Odontoceti (Toothed whales), Family: Delphinidae (Dolphins)

Threats: Drive hunts in Japan, the Caribbean, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are threatening populations as well as increasing noise pollution and fishing activity. Population size unknown leading to a data deficient listing in the IUCN.