What is the Smallest Whale in the World?

by Katrina Cain on June 25, 2008

The smallest whale in the world is the Dwarf Sperm Whale; a member of the Sperm whale family that reaches a maximum of 2.7 meters long and a maximum of about 272 kilograms. This whale is found in many of the world’s oceans, but is elusive to the extent that we don’t know what their world wide population is. One of the reasons that we know so little about this whale is that until the 1960’s it was thought to be the same as the Pygmy Sperm Whale, and although they are similar, they are definitely not the same whale.

As its name implies, Dwarf Sperm Whales are part of the Sperm whale family. What makes Sperm whales unique is their ability to flood their head with cold water to solidify the spermaceti inside. This provides downward pressure to allow the whale to dive to great depths. Spermaceti was named as such because early whalers thought the white, waxy, liquid substance was the whale’s sperm. When the whale wants to come back to the surface, the heat generated by their body at deep ocean pressure melts the solid spermaceti allowing the whale to rise with greater ease. There are two other theories about the substance; one is that in a solidified form, it protected the whale’s head and enabled them to become battering rams for ships. There have been documented cases of ships sinking by repeatedly being bashed by the sperm whale. Another theory about this substance is that it helps magnify sounds in echolocation which is the ability for animals to emit sounds and know about objects in their environment by the way the sounds bounce back.

They are listed by the IUCN as Least Concern, but mostly this is because we don’t have any idea how many of these creatures there are in the wild. They have only been able to surmise amounts by the whales that wash up on the shore dead. We have so much to learn about the ocean still and new species of animals and plants are always being discovered.

The biggest animal in the world is a species of whale. Want to know what is the biggest animal in the world?

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