By: Dagmar Fertl
Edited by: Poul Vendel
The Melon-headed whales name is from the Greek pepon meaning "melon,
gourd," and kephale meaning "head". Electra was a nymph of
The Melon-headed whales literally have a head that looks like a melon, with a
very subtle beak. If you look at the head from profile, it smoothly curves
downward. If you look down on top of it, it appears quite triangular. The
flippers are thin, long, and generally pointed at the tips. Melon-headed whales have a large
number of small slender teeth (21-25 in each jaw). The lips are normally white. The
body is dark grey to black in colour, with a white urogenital patch. There is a
triangular "mask" on the face of these whales, as well as a cape that
dips low below the dorsal fin, and a light stripe from the blowhole to the snout
The Melon-headed whale can reach 2.75 m in length and a maximum weight of 272 kg.
The location in Africa:
The Melon-headed whale is seen along most of the African coast, between 40 degrees North and 35
degrees South. They are not reported for the Red or Mediterranean Seas, or
further north than Morocco.
The Melon-headed whale is highly social, seen swimming in large groups of a few
hundred. The Melon-headed whales may also be seen swimming in association with other species,
especially Fraser's dolphins.
Melon-headed whales feed on squid and small fish.
Around the world, the Melon-headed whale is taken in purse seine and driftnet
fisheries, as well as some directed fisheries.