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Melon-headed Whale (Peponocephala electra)

Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis)

All text on this page is copyright protected: © 2014 Kelvin Aitken. Image is © 2014 Conlin
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Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae
Genus: Peponocephala
Species: electra
Taxonomic name: Peponocephala electra
Other Common Names: Blackfish, Many-toothed Blackfish.

The Melon-headed Whale (Peponocephala electra) is one of a number of species of ocean dwelling marine mammals also known as Blackfish.

The distribution of the Melon-headed Whale is tropical to warm temperate waters in both hemispheres. They feed on squid and small fish. Pods of Melon-headed Whales may reach well over 1500 though smaller groups of 100 or more are the usual pod size.

Melon-headed Whales have a distinctive triangular shaped head, when viewed from below or above. They are slender with a large, back-swept dorsal fin. Colour is black on back and sides with a slightly lighter belly and a distinctive white tip on the chin extending onto the nose. The lips are often paler gray to white. There may be a lighter area around the vents varying from pale gray to white or pink.

Viewed from the surface they throw a lot of spray, bunching together when pursued. Underwater they are very vocal, swarming past in a curious jostling group. They have been observed attacking dolphins on rare occasions.

Calves are born at 1.2 m and grow to 2.6 m if female and 2.7 if male.

Their taxonomic name, Peponocephala electra, means "melon head" with electra referring to a mythological Greek nymph.

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