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Melon-headed Whale - Peponocephala electra
Photo by Doug Perrine/

The melon-headed whale is a relatively small species that has a small pointed, melon-shaped head and a slender body. In general, the body is almost completely gray or black with light-gray, white, or pink lips. Melon-headed whales are extremely social and usually occur in schools of several hundred to sometimes more than 1,000. This strong social bond has occasionally led to mass strandings.

Melon-headed Whale
(Peponocephala electra)

Pantropical, mainly occurring between 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south in latitude

Mostly found on the high seas in deep water

Pelagic fish, squid, and occasionally crustaceans


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Although the authors who originally coined its genus name meant to describe it as "melon-headed", in Latin, pepo actually translates as pumpkin. Therefore, the genus name literally means "pumpkin-headed whale".

Learn More
- Duke University
- Convention on Migratory Species