The smallest known whale in the world is the dwarf sperm whale.
When fully grown this whale measures in at around 9 feet long and can weigh between 400 – 600 pounds.
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 dwarf sperm whales 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 (short) 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 while the dwarf sperm whale is the smallest whale among the entire cetacean family.
As with its larger cousin the sperm whale these marine mammals are also known to consume a diet of squid and will also hunt fish, small crabs, octopus and shrimp.
Note: The cetacean family is made up of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Where the sperm whale name came from
The sperm whale family gets its name from the spermaceti organ found in its head and is present in all three sperm whale species.
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 possible 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.
Another common theory is that the oil helps the sperm whale with echolocation by improving its ability to absorb sound,
The dwarf sperm whale is a marine mammal
Given its small size and stature the dwarf sperm whale may be confused for another type of animal, however the dwarf sperm whale is indeed a whale and like all cetaceans this whale is a marine mammal.
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.
While they generally travel alone or in small pods they may be seen in groups of up to 10 other whales during certain social events.
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 to as the toothed whale and baleen whale suborders.
Belonging to the toothed whale suborder these marine mammals possess teeth which they may use to grab onto their prey so that they can prevent it from escaping, however little is known about their hunting methods so it is possible that they may have very little use for their teeth just like the larger sperm whale which is able to successfully capture large squid, even if it losses all its teeth or has a deformed jaw.
As a toothed whale the dwarf sperm whale is equipped with echolocation which helps it navigate the ocean at night or in dark environments and is very useful for locating potential prey.
Echolocation can also help these marine mammals detect predators such as sharks that may be nearby so that they can plan a proper defense and escape.
As mentioned before there is also the baleen whale suborder.
While toothed whale possess teeth baleen whales are instead born with baleen plates with bristles attached to them that allow these whales to filter small prey through their bristles.
Also unlike the toothed whale suborder the existence of echolocation in baleen whales remains unknown.
Previously it was thought that echolocation only existed among the toothed whale suborder however new research seems to suggest that at least some baleen whales may also possess echolocation or at least have the components necessary to make echolocation possible.
The baleen whale suborder is generally comprised of large whales is in the
To recap the characteristics of the dwarf sperm whale (the smallest known whale on earth) these marine mammals can grow to lengths of up to 9 ft. long and weight up to 600 lbs. when fully grown, which is about the size of a mid sized common bottlenose dolphin.
Baby dwarf sperm whales are failry tiny in size measuring in at a meager 3.3 – 4 ft. long at birth.
To assist with locating food, navigating the ocean and avoiding attacks from predators these whales are equipped with echolocation.
They also possess the ability to shoot ink into the water in order to blind their attacker so that they can escape.
Because they possess a spermaceti organ among other genetic comparisons these marine mammals are part of the sperm whale family which is made up of the dwarf sperm whale, pygmy sperm whale and the sperm whale.