Pygmy Sperm Whale

Kogia breviceps
Source: Onet

Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, name is derived from the milky-white substance found in the animal’s head named spermaceti oil due to its resemblance to semen. This oil was once very useful as fuel, industrial lubricant and cosmetic ingredient. Unlike the Dwarf cousin which lives over or near the edge of the continental shelf, the Pygmy sperm whale are found in oceanic waters beyond. They are found in Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans but difficult to spot because of their inconspicuous habit. Among a few other locations, they have been recorded most frequently in tropical West Africa.

The Pygmy sperm whale reach lengths of up to about 3.5 m and weigh between 315-450 kg. The stocky forward part of the body rapidly becomes tapered and narrow behind the dorsal fin, which is small and situated posterior to the mid-point on back. The head resembles that of the shark. Teeth in this cetacean species are in the lower jaw only. Marine animals like crab, shrimp, fish, octopus and squid are eaten. They become sexually mature at 4-5 years of age, and a calf born after the usually 9-11 months long gestation period may live for up to 23 years.

Although species is not considered endangered, locals were generally condemned for butchering an individual pygmy sperm whale washed up on a beach in Lekki, Lagos in 2013.