Pygmy Killer Whale

Feresa attenuata
© David Fleetham

Pygmy Killer Whale, Feresa attenuata, is in spite of its name not whale-sized at all; rather, it is an average-sized dolphin and part of the Family Delphinidae. They are typically found in deep, warm temperate, sub-tropical and tropical waters all over the globe, and are included as one of the species found within Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but not close to the shore. The round and blunt head of this aquatic mammal is lacking of a beak, thereby making it unique among other dolphins. They have an underslung jaw and lips white, and usually a white spot on the tip of the mandible. The front half of the body is quite robust and then tapers to a narrow peduncle. They can reach a length of 2.6 m and weight of 170 kg. They are aggressive and occasionally attack other dolphins, but must be wary of large sharks. They can also be wary of boats and will cluster together when fleeing a disturbance.

Pygmy killer whales are one of the least known small cetaceans, and they are of course included under chapter 108 of Nigeria’s ‘Endangered Species (Control of International Trade and Traffic) Act’, among animals of First Schedule for which international trade is absolutely prohibited.