Melon-headed Whale
Peponocephala electra

Scientific Name: Peponocephala electra

Other Names: Little Killer Whale, Many-toothed Blackfish, Electra Dolphin,

Suborder: Odontoceti

Family: Delphinidae

The Melon-headed Whales is a slim, dark, beakless dolphin with a head which tapers to a point. A darker cape dips below the tall, falcate dorsal fin and a greyish-white belly patch is sometimes visible. White markings around the mouth give the appearance of lips and dark markings around the eyes form a facemask.

These animals are usually very social among themselves but are shy of boats and seldom bow-ride. They can be fairly surface active when undisturbed and often associate with fraser's, rough-toothed, spinner, spotted and bottlenose dolphins.

Maximum Length
Adult: 2.1 - 1.8 m
Calf: 1 m

Maximum Weight
Adult: 210 kg
Calf: 15 kg

Melon-headed Whale Ecology

Range: Tropical and subtropical waters between 40ºN - 35ºS. There have been records of strandings at higher latitude associated with incursions of warm water but these are thought to be unusual.

Usual Habitat: Often found in offshore waters but can be found in deep, near-shore waters.

Usual group size: 100 - 500 individuals (exceptionally 1000-2000)

Main Diet: fish, squip and occasionally crustaceans

Local population: Unknown

Global range of the Melon-headed Whale

Dark blue area indicate where Melon-headed Whales are likely to be found
 Conservation Information
Protection and Conservation Status

IUCN Conservation Status: 
Melon-headed Whales are listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN red list.

SPAW Protocol:  Melon-headed Whales are cetaceans, which are listed under Annex II of the SPAW protocol. As such they require total protection under article 11 of this protocol which prohibits the "taking, possession, killing and commercial trade of the species, their parts or products". The SPAW protocol was created to help with the implementation and promotion of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Annexes of the SPAW protocol can be found here.

Local Laws: Cetaceans are protected under the Conservation of Wildlife Act of Trinidad and Tobago which offers protection to all species not listed under the second or third schedules of this act.     
Reports of Melon-headed Whales in Trinidad and Tobago
This is currently being researched and written. It will appear here shortly.

The above information was obtained from the following sources:

  • A Princeton Field Guide: Whales Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World by Hadoram Shirihai and Brett Jarrett (2006)
  • Smithsonian Handbooks: Whales Dolphins and Porpoises by Mark Carwardine and illustrated by Martin Camm (2002)
  • The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society's Species Guide at
  • The IUCN Redlist at
  • The SPAW protocol Annexes with links available at,83

We would like to thank the following people for the use of the art work and photographs:

  • Alësha Naranjit (Illustration of Melon-headed Whale)
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