Skip to main content
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Cetacea · Delphinidae · Peponocephala electra

Search the Archive
 • Species Name
 • Family Tree
 • Conservaton Status
 • Skulls
 • Bones and Teeth
Field Guide
 • Map Search
   Including search by
     • Location
     • Ecoregion
     • Species
     • National Park
 • About Maps
Teacher Resources
About the Site
Smithsonian Institution
Copyright Notice
Privacy Notice

* PDF reader
available here

(opens in a new window)

Peponocephala electra

Melon-headed Whale

Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae

Image of Peponocephala electra
Peponocephala electra - melon-headed whale
Click to enlarge. (38 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

This dark gray species is actually in the black dolphin family. It is smaller than almost all the other North American members of this family and is approximately the size of a bottlenose dolphin. This whale lives in deep tropical and subtropical waters around the world and is relatively rare; the total population in the world is believed to be perhaps 2,000.  They frequently school together in large herds (200) and with other small whales and dolphins. Their diet includes fish, squid, and sometimes crustaceans, similar to that of Fraser's dolphins with whom they often associate. They are very aggressive and do not survive well in captivity.


Range: 2.1-2.7 meters


Range: 160-208 kg


Gray, J.E., 1846.  On the cetaceous animals. Pp. 13-53, in The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839 to 1843 by the authority of the Lords Commisioners of the Admiralty (J. Richardson and J.E. Gray, eds.) p. 35.  E.W. Janson, London.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account * (opens in a new window).
* PDF reader available here (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Peponocephala electra

Image of Peponocephala electra
Click to enlarge. (121kb)

end of text