Pygmy Killer Whales: Profile and Information

Pygmy Killer Whales

Pygmy Killer Whales are not a popular animal, but they are engaging small members of the Dolphin Family.

Pygmy Killer Whales are also called the “Slender Blackfish” or the “Slender Pilot Whale.” These gentle sea creatures were not known till the 1950s.

The only way people knew them was by their skulls that were kept at the British Museum at the time.

The pygmy killer whales are one of the world’s least frequently seen species of oceanic dolphins. They are also the World’s rarest Cetaceans, challenging to find and difficult to study.


The Pygmy Killer Whales are average-sized Dolphins and not necessarily like whales.


The Pygmy Killer Whales have a black body with white patches on the chin, mouth, chest, and abdomen. Their sides are light grey, and their back may be black or brownish grey.

The beak of the pygmy killer whales, as well as their genital area, are white. They also have white lips and the entire jaw, which look like a “goatee.”

They have a dark stripe that stretches from the top of the head, and to the widening at their dorsal region forms their dorsal cape. There is also a light grey patch that extends from the throat of the dolphin to the vent area.

There is a pale grey part on each of their flank, as well as a white patch on the ventral side between the tail and the flippers. The cape is also dark-colored.


The Adult Pygmy Killer Whales ranges in length from 2.1 to 2.6. Their dorsal fin is around 220mm high, with a base that is 375mm long.

Their teeth are around 8mm in diameter at alveolus, below 30 mm in length. The Pygmy Killer Whales have 16-24 teeth on the top row and 20-26 on the bottom row.


They weigh between the ranges of 110-170 kg.  Their maximum recorded weight is 225 kg.


Interestingly, the Pygmy Killer Whales have a close resemblance with the False Killer Whales and the Melon Headed Whales.

The head of the Pygmy Killer Whales is round, and they have a body that is slender and small. The dorsal fin is large, and the Flipper tips are rounded. They have a jaw that is underslung, and their beak can’t be differentiated from their heads.

The backbone of a Pygmy Killer Whale contains 68-71 vertebrae. Their long flippers appear round at the tips with convex leading as well as convex trailing edges.

The Pygmy Killer Whales have a robust body that narrows towards their dorsal fin. Their nose is blunt, and their Flukes are pointed and a little bit notch in the middle.


The Pygmy Killer Whales can be found in the tropics of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. They are also seen frequently in Hawaii and Japan.

You can also find them in the Gulf of Mexico, The Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, near Sri Lanka, and the South Eastern Atlantic Ocean. Despite its presence in these locations, It is not easily spotted anywhere.


The Pygmy Killer Whales do not show up close to shore areas except In the presence of clear water. They have also be discovered to stay near deep, warm waters.

You can find them in Tropical and Sub Tropical Waters all over the world.


  • The Pygmy Killer Whale possesses specific behavioral characteristics.
  • Pygmy Killer Whale is always found in groups of 15-30, and sometimes even larger groups.
  • They are not known to be generally acrobatic, but they have found to be spy hopping, breaching and tail slapping.
  • These dolphins can be seen logging, especially when it is sunny.
  • They avoid humans.
  • These species of Whales are some of the liveliest swimmers.
  • They are found to strand often.
  • These mammals can be very aggressive.
  • Though yet to be confirmed, these mammals are believed to be non-migratory.
  • These killer whales have sounds that are similar to the whistles and clicks of bottlenose dolphins.


The Pygmy Killer Whales feed on octopus, squid, smaller fish, and occasionally mammals. They are known to attack and feed on large fish also such as tuna and other Dolphins.


  • The Pygmy Killer Whale has specific adaptive features.
  • They have been discovered to possess acute vision both in and out of water.
  • Their bigger size and extremely thick insulating layer enable them to maintain proper body temperature.
  • They can also feed on large prey with the aid of their large teeth.


Their large size and aggressiveness also save them as it makes them impenetrable to several predators. However, large sharks or Orca eat them sometimes.


Not enough is known of the breeding habits of these mammals. Males and females become sexually mature when they reach a length of 7 feet.

The calves are 32 inches long at birth. They are believed to breed in the summer months. Usually, one calf is born to each female.

Life Span

Pygmy Killer Whales live for at most 14 years of age.

Conservation Status

There is not enough information available about their conservation status in the IUCN. They are indeed widespread but not so common. Their primary threats are high sounds and fisheries.

Though not enough research has been done to determine whether they are declining in numbers or not, and this is because of their rarity and how difficult they are to study.

Interesting Facts

Here are some of the vital exciting facts about Pygmy Killer Whale that you must know.

  • The Pygmy Killer Whale is often confused with the Melon Headed Whale, and the False Killer Whale because of the shape of its body.
  • The Pygmy Killer Whale can extend its eyes from its sockets to look behind itself (Amazing right).

This is one rare creature with several amazing characters, do not hesitate to share what you have discovered about them with friends.

To do this, simply share on your social media using the icons feature on top or below this article. We will also love to hear from you, do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

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