Melon-headed whale

The melon-headed whale (species Peponocephala electra; other names are many-toothed blackfish and electra dolphin) is a cetacean of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae). It is closely related to the pygmy killer whale and pilot whale, and collectively these dolphin species are known by the common name blackfish. It is also related to the false killer whale. The melon-headed whale is widespread throughout the world's tropical waters, although not often seen by humans because it prefers deep water.

The melon-headed whale has a body shape rather like a torpedo. Its head is a rounded cone giving the animal its common name. The body is more or less uniformly light grey except for a dark grey face – sometimes called the "mask". The flippers are long and pointed. The dorsal fin is tall with a pointed tip – reminiscent of its relative the killer whale. When viewed in profile, its head is not as rounded as the pygmy killer whale and this may aid identification.

This whale is capable of very fast swimming, particularly when startled. In flight, it often makes short, low jumps clear of the sea surface, splashing lots of water. Melon-headed whales usually gather in large numbers (at least 100 and possibly as many as 1,000 on rare occasions) and sometimes strand together.

Melon-headed whale
  • Size

    The melon-headed whale weighs 10–15 kg (22–33 lb) at birth and is 1 m (3.3 ft) long. An adult grows up to 3 m (9.8 ft) long and weighs over 200 kg (440 lb).

  • Feeding

    Their primary diet is squid.

  • Life History

    Gestation lasts from 10 to 12 months, and results in the birth of a single calf.

  • Behavior

    This whale is capable of very fast swimming, particularly when startled. In flight, it often makes short, low jumps clear of the sea surface, splashing lots of water. Melon-headed whales usually gather in large numbers and sometimes strand together.