Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010 : Pygmy Sperm Whale

Pygmy Sperm Whale

The Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps) is one of three species of toothed whale in the sperm whale family. They are not often sighted at sea, and most of what is known about the creatures comes from the study of washed-up specimens.

There has been debate and differing opinion as to the correct classification of the Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales (see sperm whale family for details). The two were widely considered to be the same species, until 1966, when a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution definitively diagnosed them as separate species. The pygmy sperm whale was first named by de Blainville in 1838.

Pygmy sperm whales are found in the temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. However, they are rarely sighted at sea, so most data comes from stranded animals - making a precise range and migration map difficult. They are believed to prefer off-shore waters. Their status is usually described as rare, but occasional patches of higher density of strandings suggest it may be rather more common than previously supposed. The total population is unknown.

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