Pygmy sperm whale
Small whales, even smaller than some dolphins. Sturdy body, very similar in appearance to the Dwarf Sperm Whales. They are rarely sighted alive with the most information originating from dead (stranded) individuals.
They often lie motionless at the surface and only swim very lethargically. Pygmy Sperm Whales have a smaller and more hooked-shaped dorsal fin than Dwarf Sperm Whales but also have their blowhole on the left side of their bodies, emitting a practically invisible spout.
Diving behaviour also resembles that of Dwarf sperm whales; the animals drop below the surface like a stone without raising their flukes. They possess a spermaceti organ and reach sexual maturity at age of 4-5 years;
Special feature: Expel a dark reddish-brown liquid (intestine substance) when startled. The liquid creates a dense cloud that may parry a predator and supports the whale’s escape.
Further names: Portuguese: Cachalote-pigmeu
Size of adults: up to 2,7 m
Prey: Cephalopods, squid, fish and crustaceans (shrimps and crabs).
Behaviour: Very little knowledge on their life cycles and social lives. Usually encountered alone or in small groups.
Range: Tropical and temperate waters worldwide. Prefer seaward parts of the continental shelf; no evidence for migration.
Madeira: Rarely sighted
Distinctive features: superficial resemblance with sharks; head with very little underslung lower jaw and “false gill” (a light bracket-shaped marking between the eye and flipper),
Taxonomy: Suborder: Odontoceti (Toothed whales); Superfamily Physeteroidea (Sperm whales); Family: Kogiidae
Threats: Climate change, marine waste, increasing underwater noise level. Insufficient data on global population size.