The name “Pygmy killer whale” comes from fact that this dolphin shares certain physical characteristics with killer whale; however regardless of its physical appearance this marine mammal is not closely related to the killer whale species.
Pygmy in particular means “short” or “lesser” and is used to describe smaller versions of cetaceans that appear similar in physical appearance to their larger relatives.
While these dolphins are sometimes hard to spot they are typically found in warmer tropical and subtropical environments in and around the equator.
Unlike the killer whale this species is much smaller in size and weight (about the size and weight of an average dolphin).
They have been known to display extreme aggression towards other marine mammals when put into close proximity with other species.
In terms of size the Pygmy killer whale can reach an average size of 6 – 8.5 ft in length and weigh between 250 – 400 lbs when fully matured.
As stated earlier one of the resembling features these marine animals share with the killer whale is skin coloring, which is black to dark grey with lighter colored (whitish) markings on the under-body and lower jaw.
They have a rounded skull with large canonical teeth but unlike other species of dolphin the pygmy killer whale lacks a snout or beak.
Another common feature this dolphin shares with the killer whale is its long angular dorsal fin, which can often be seen leaning to one side.
They have also been known on occasion to attack other marine mammals; usually small marine animals such as dolphins.
These dolphins tend to prefer living in tropical/sub tropical climates and can be seen in places such as Hawaii, the Indian Ocean, the Northern Gulf of Mexico, Sri Lanka, Japan, and the Northern West Atlantic as well as occasional spottings in South Carolina of the United States.
Compared to other species the pygmy killer whale appears to prefer living in deeper offshore oceanic waters rather than near coastal areas or onshore waters.
From what is known about this dolphin’s social structure they tend to travel in groups of 10 – 30 dolphins with groups growing well beyond 30 during certain social events.
Observations show that these dolphins can be fairly aggressive in certain aggregations and when brought into captivity some dolphins displayed so much aggression that they began killing other marine mammals in the group.
While not much is known about the pygmy killer whales breeding habits it can be estimated that the average gestation period for these marine mammals is likely to be 10 – 12 months.
As with other dolphins these mammals most likely feed their young with milk for several months to a year while the baby dolphin learns to hunt and consume solid foods.
Both the Sexual maturity and lifespan for the pygmy killer whale is unknown, however most species of dolphin reach sexual maturity between the ages of 6 and 12 with a few dolphins waiting until around the age of 15 to begin reproducing offspring.
The pygmy killer whale doesn’t appear to face many threats other than accidental catches in fishing nets, which can occur when a dolphin sees a large group of fish and goes in for the kill assuming its easy prey or in cases where the dolphin did not notice the fishing net that was casted in the ocean.