Juvenile pygmy sperm whale washed ashore today Amagansett, Long Island. They only get to about 9 feet and are the smallest of whales. They’re usually in the tropics and in deeper seas. Here’s a video primer. Apparently very rare to see a beached juvenile whale, and even rarer this for species so far north. The commentary:

Incredible day in Amagansett.

A 50-foot fin whale washed up dead on the ocean beach; it had probably been dead a week.

Then, in a truly bizarre coincidence, a once-in-a-lifetime rarity and not normally an animal even found in this region, a pygmy sperm whale, a juvenile, washed up alive 2 miles down the beach. It was an astonishing thing to see. Sadly, it was euthanized later in the day.

Cause of death unknown…Pygmy sperm whale had some skin lesions suggesting bacterial infection. Did not seem thin. Ingestion of plastic always a possibility. They’ll be examined more closely via necropsy in coming days.

Via Carl Safina.


A 9.5 ft Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps). Upon necropsy, found to be pregnant. The mother had head trauma consistent with fishermen beating it as it struggled in the net. Realising it was not a shark, it was thrown back dead into the ocean. What a waste. Education is the key. It was not a targeted species and is protected.

Source: D’ Bone Collector Museum Facebook



On March 21, two pygmy sperm whales were killed off the coast of Siarfao Island, Phillippines. (read here my post)

Two new photos were released, showing a pygmy sperm whale calf, reportedly killed by dynamite fishing. The injuries are allegedly from dynamite fishing.

Dynamite fishing, which involves the use of explosives to stun and instantly kill fish, is often used by fishermen looking for an easier and faster way of catching fish.

The explosives are usually improvised. They are commonly plastic bottles filled with explosive nitrate and diesel.It’s possible that bigger capitalists, perhaps even foreign ones, are funding the fishermen.

  • via rappler
  • Photo by Damien Gagnieux

                                       Pygmy Sperm Whale

                                        (Kogia breviceps)

is one of the three species in the sperm whale family (Dwarf sperm whale,Sperm whale) they are rarely sighted at sea and not much information is known about them. they are about 4ft in length at birth and can grow to 11 feet at maturity.

NOAA’s DNA database helps identify orca kill

Thanks to the NOAA’s collection of more than 140,000 tissue samples taken from marine mammals and sea turtles, we can now add another species to the list of killer whales’ potential prey: pygmy sperm whales.

During an NOAA Fisheries marine mammal survey last year, researchers witnessed a pod of orca make a kill roughly 200 miles off the coast of Central California. While the researchers did not arrive at the scene quickly enough to identify the prey by sight, they were able to recover the prey’s heart and lungs.

The tissue samples were taken back to the Marine Mammal Genetics Group at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. There, DNA samples were extracted from the tissues and their genetic sequences compared to the computerized database of other DNA samples. This allowed the team to identify the orca kill as a pygmy sperm whale - the first confirmed case of killer whales preying on this particular species.

The NOAA’s research sample collection has provided invaluable information in the past. It was this collection that allowed researchers to discern genetically distinct ecotypes of killer whales and genetically distinct populations within those ecotypes - the endangered Southern Residents, for example. Another project helped assess genetic differences in different populations of bowhead whales; another helps identify the remains of marine organisms that have become entangled in fishing nets, which helps researchers track and protect endangered species and monitor their status. A current project hopes to identify a new species of beaked whale based on the remains of stranded individuals found in Alaska and Japan.

These projects show the necessity of collecting a wide range of tissue samples from individual animals and the importance of maintaining a DNA database for research purposes.

Based on materials originally written for the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division of the NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Image: Killer whales near the scene of the pygmy sperm whale kill. (Credit: Paula Olson.)

The Sperm Whale

The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is a marine mammal species, order Cetacea, a toothed whale (odontocete) having the largest brain of any animal. The name comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal’s head.
The sperm whale is the only living member of genus Physeter. The now outdated synonym Physeter catodon refers to the same species. It is one of three extant species in the sperm whale superfamily, along with the pygmy sperm whale and dwarf sperm whale.

External image

…. sperm.


Orcas in the Bahamas

Orcas in the Bahamas are relatively rare and not much is known about them. From 1913 to 2011, there were only 34 confirmed sightings! However, some studies have been done on them. 

The following information is taken from this paper.


The first report of orcas in Bahamian waters occurred in 1913 when the whaling ship ‘Grace’ reported seeing the whales. The first photographic evidence of Bahamian orcas arose in 1960 when a stranded individual was photographed. 

An identification catalogue of 14 individuals has been created despite the few sightings of these mysterious animals. It is particularly interesting to note that the female O06 and adult male O04 were first spotted in 1995 and have been seen together no less than 8 times over 16 years (a likely mother-son duo)


Orcas in the Bahamas are unique in that they hunt species of marine mammals that no other orcas are thought to hunt. Prey items include: Fraser’s dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, and pygmy sperm whales. They have had interesting altercations with sperm whales as well; in 2009, a pod of about 4 orcas approached a group of sperm whales that had a young calf. The sperm whales immediately formed a protective circle around the calf; the orcas did not attack and eventually lost interest and left. Whether this was mere curiosity or perhaps the sizing-up of a potential meal is unknown. 

Population Density

It has become clear that there are very few orcas inhabiting the waters of the Bahamas, though it is currently not known if it has always been like that. Some have hypothesized that orcas might have been more more numerous prior to the decline of Caribbean monk seals in the 1800s. 

Photos source: [X]



The fossils are two well-preserved skulls and their study has revealed “unexpected levels of complexity” of evolution, in dwarf  and pygmy sperm whales. 

Called Nanokogia isthmia, it was found in Panama and belongs to a group of toothed whales known as Kogiids . Both of the two living species: the dwarf and pygmy sperm whales, are close relatives of the huge sperm whale. The specific name ‘isthmia’, derives from the Latin ‘isthmus’ in reference to the Isthmus of Panama.

The spermaceti organ is located in the front and is associated with the generation of sounds and echolocation.  The song of the extinct whale may have been different,  because its spermaceti organ was probably bigger than the organ in the modern dwarf or pygmy whales.

The study suggests there were a time when those little whale had a much larger spermaceti, but they suffered an evolutionary reduction that occurred in at least, two separate occasions, although experts do not yet know why.

The new discovery gives us a better understanding of the ancient distribution of these poorly known relatives of the sperm whale. Previously we knew of similarly-aged pygmy and dwarf whales from Baja California and Peru, but this new fossil fills in an important geographic gap in the group’s ancient distribution