Pygmy Killer Whale

Scientific Name:
Fersa attenuata
2.1 - 2.6 m (6.9 - 8.5 ft)
110 - 170 kg (242 - 375 lbs)
data deficient
Fish, squid and smaller dolphins

Physical characteristics

Has a rounded head without a beak, white lips and a white patch on tip of lower jaw. Has a high backward-pointing dorsal fin and flippers with rounded tips. The bodyis slneder with dark gray/black coloration and paler marks on underside and some white on belly.

Behavioral characterization

Known to be aggressive, but shy of vessels. Beat their flippers and flukes on the surface of water and growl. Sometimes seen to leap, spy hop, tail slap and bow-ride.


Japan, Hawaii, and warmer North Pacific Ocean; also in West Indian and tropical western Africa in Atlantic, sometimes in Indian Ocean and Gulf of Mexico

Population size

Unknown, around 38,900 in eastern tropical Pacific, other populations are estimated to be less than 1,000.


Killer whales and large sharks.

Migration/Dispersal patterns

Little is known about their migratory habits, but they are believed to be resident.

Social system/Group size

Usually seen in groups of 8 - 25.

Major threats

They are hunted for meat, oil and as bait. Entanglement in fishing gear is another threat, though it is not known to what extend this happens.

Research efforts


Fun fact

Known to be very aggressive to other species in captivity and often kill other cetaceans if they are housed together.