Hawaiian Island Cetaceans

Melon-headed Whale

Scientific Name - Peponocephala electra

Average Length - Male: 2.6m, Female: 2.7m

Photo Credit: © Robin W. Baird/Cascadia Research Collective


Little is known about the Melon-headed Whale.  Most information collected is from Hawaiian waters where there are approximately 5000 residents that travel among all of the main Hawaiian islands.  An isolated stock of approximately 400-500 individuals lives off the Kohala coast of the Big Island. Melon-headed whales are often sighted in large groups at sea, often of up to a few hundred at a time. These marine mammals, once hunted for their teeth, are known to dive up to 1,500m (5,000 feet) or more and are thought to be especially sensitive to anthropogenic noise.  These large pods of very social whales can be observed in tropical and subtropical waters, from a latitude of 20 degrees North to 20 degrees South.

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