The smallest known whale is the dwarf sperm whale.
This whale measures in at around 9 feet long and can weigh between 400 – 600 pounds when fully matured.
Baby whales are even smaller measuring between 3.3 – 4 feet at birth.
It is also important to keep in mind that 9 feet is a rounded estimate for the dwarf sperm whale and that some only measure in at 8 1/2 feet or less.
To understand just how small this whale is it would take about 11 adult dwarf sperm whales (or more) lined up in a row to equal the length of the worlds biggest whale (the blue whale) which can measure in at around 98 feet when fully matured.
Note: most blue whales measure between 70 – 90 ft. long at full length.
In terms of weight it would take 600 adult dwarf sperm whales at 600 pounds each to equal a 180 (metric) ton blue whale.
The dwarf sperm whale belongs to a family of 3 species which also includes the pygmy sperm whale and the regular sperm whale.
The pygmy sperm whale closely resembles the dwarf sperm whale in terms of appearance and size and can be so close in resemblance that it can be difficult to distinguish one species from the other.
The sperm whale is the largest of the 3 species and is capable of growing to lengths of up to 67 feet long when fully grown.
In fact the sperm whale is the largest marine mammal in the toothed whale suborder.
This family of whale gets its name from the spermaceti organ found in its head.
Originally this organ was believed to produce sperm due to the waxy substance produced from this organ which appears very similar to the color of sperm.
Later research however has found that this is not the case and researchers are unsure of the purpose of this waxy substance.
One explanation that is commonly used is that it helps the whale with bouncy and allows it to dive, rise and balance itself in the water.
These marine mammals are primarily solitary animals and can be found swimming in the waters of the continental shelf as they tend to prefer warmer tropical climates.
When threatened the dwarf sperm whale produces a dark red ink (similar to an octopus) from its body which is believed to be used to disorient and blind its attacker so that it can escape.
As a species the sperm whale, dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm whale make up 3 of around 80 – 90 recorded species of cetacea, which is composed of all species of whale, dolphin and porpoise.
These marine mammals belong to one of two suborders within the cetacean family which we refer as the toothed whale and baleen whale suborders.
Being toothed whales these marine mammals possess teeth which they use to grab onto their prey and are equipped with echolocation in order to navigate the ocean at night or in dark environments.
Baleen whales on the other hand do not possess teeth and are instead born with baleen plates and bristles that allow them to filter small prey through their bristles.
Unlike the toothed whale suborder the existence of echolocation in baleen whales remains unknown, however new research seems to suggest that at least some baleen whales may possess echolocation or at least have the components necessary to make echolocation possible.