A Stranding Record of Dwarf Sperm Whale Kogia sima in Lakshadweep Archipelago, India and its Genetic Analogy by Molecular Phylogeny

  • K. V. Aneesh KumarEmail author
  • Sibi T. Baby
  • K. V. Dhaneesh
  • Hashim Manjebrayakath
  • N. Saravanane
  • M. Sudhakar


The distribution of Kogiid whales from the Indian Ocean waters, especially Indian waters are poorly known. It is extremely difficult to differentiate the two species (Kogia sima and K. breviceps) based on their morphological characteristics alone. Our study presents the first confirmed record of dwarf sperm whale Kogia sima from the Indian waters using morphological examinations, skull morphology and molecular identification. The study is based on the stranded animal found in the west coast of Agatti Island in Lakshadweep Archipelago belongs to the Indian EEZ. K. sima showed intra-species genetic variability which confirms the isolation of the species in oceans as the tropical nature of the species restricts its movement.


Kogia sima Kogiid whales Kogiidae Stranding Lakshadweep Indian Ocean 



We are deeply thankful to the Director, CMLRE for the encouragement and support during the study. The guidance and encouragements given by Thomas A. Jefferson for confirming the taxonomic identification of the species and also for providing constructive comments during the preparation of the manuscript, and to Ana Lucia Cypriano-Souza for the excellent suggestions given for the molecular analysis of the specimen which certainly improve the quality of the manuscript is sincerely acknowledged. We are also grateful to S.J. Chivers for providing the DNA sequence for comparing with our sample. We are expressing our sincere gratitude to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions which improved the quality of the manuscript. We are expressing our sincere thanks to Mr. Alikutty for his excellent support during the collection of the sample. The work is carried out as part of the Deep-sea and Distant water Fishery (DS&DWF) project under the Marine Living Resource Programme (MLR Programme) of CMLRE, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The financial and logistical support received from the CMLRE (MoES), is thankfully acknowledged. This is CMLRE contribution number 95.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

Authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


  1. Anon (2008) Checklist of Indian mammals revised and updated 2008. Zoos' print, Volume XXIII, Number 8, August 2008 (RNI 9:11)Google Scholar
  2. Baird RW (2005) Sightings of dwarf (Kogia sima) and pygmy (K. breviceps) sperm whales from the main Hawaiian islands. Pac Sci 59:461–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baird RW, Nelson D, Lien J, Nagorsen DW (1996) The status of the pygmy sperm whale, Kogia breviceps. in Canada Can Field Nat 110(3):525–532Google Scholar
  4. Ballance LT, Pitman RL (1998) Cetaceans of the western tropical Indian Ocean: distribution, relative abundance, and comparisons with cetacean communities of two other tropical ecosystems. J Cetacean Res Manag 3(2):213–218Google Scholar
  5. Ballance LT, Anderson RC, Pitman RL, Stafford K, Shan A, Waheed Z, Brownell RL Jr (2001) Cetacean sightings around the republic of the Maldives, April 1998. J Cetacean Res Manag 3(2):213–218Google Scholar
  6. Bambaradeniya (2006) Fauna of Sri Lanka: Status of taxonomy, research and conservation. The World Conservation Union, Colombo, Sri Lanka & Government of Sri Lanka, 308pGoogle Scholar
  7. Beasley I, Cherel Y, Robinson S, Betty E, Gales R (2013) Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) stranding record in Tasmania, Australia, and diet of a single specimen. Pap Proc R Soc Tasmania 147:25–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Best PB (2007) Whales and dolphins of the southern African subregion. Cambridge University Press, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
  9. Bloch D, Mikkelsen B (2009) A northernmost record of dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) (Owen, 1866) from the Faroe Islands. Aquat Mamm 35(2):306–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bonato M, Webber MA, Attoumane A, Giacoma C (2016) First records of dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) from the Union of the Comoros. Mar Biodiv Rec 9:37. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bröker KCA, Ilangakoon A (2008) Occurrence and conservation needs of cetaceans in and around the Bar reef marine sanctuary. Sri Lanka Oryx 42(2):286–291. Google Scholar
  12. Caldwell DK, Caldwell MC (1989) Pygmy sperm whale, Kogia breviceps (de Blainville, 1838); dwarf sperm whale, Kogia simus (Owen, 1866). In: Ridgway SH, Harrison R (eds) Handbook of marine mammals, Vol 4, River Dolphins and the Larger Toothed Whales. Academic Press, London and San Diego, pp. 235–60Google Scholar
  13. Chantrapornsyl S, Kinze CC, Leatherwood S, Prematunga WP (1991) Notes on the genus Kogia in the northern Indian Ocean. In: Leatherwood S, Donovan GP (eds), Cetaceans and Cetacean Research in the Indian Ocean Sanctuary, Marine Mammal Technical Report No. 3, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, KenyaGoogle Scholar
  14. Chivers SJ, Leduc RG, Robertson KM, Barros NB, Dizon AE (2005) Genetic variation of Kogia spp. with preliminary evidence for two species of Kogia sima. Mar Mamm Sci 21(4):619–634CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. De Silva PHDH (1987) Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) recorded off Sri Lanka, India, from the Arabian Sea and gulf, gulf of Aden and from the Red Sea. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 84(3):505–525Google Scholar
  16. De Vos A, Clark R, Johnson C, Kerr I, Payne R, Madsen PT (2012) Cetacean sightings and acoustic detections in the offshore waters of Sri Lanka: march–June 2003. J Cetacean Res Manag 12(2):185–193Google Scholar
  17. Elwen SH, Gridley T, Roux JP, Best PB, Smale MJ (2013) Records of Kogiid whales in Namibia, including the first record of the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima). Mar Biodiv Rec 6:e45. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Findlay KP, Best PB, Ross GJB, Cockcroft VG (1992) The distribution of small odontocete cetaceans off the coasts of South Africa and Namibia. South Afr J Mar Sci 12:237–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Folmer O, Black M, Hoeh W, Lutz R, Vrijenhoek R (1994) DNA primers for amplification of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I from diverse metazoan invertebrates. Mol Mar Biol Biotechnol 3(5):294–299Google Scholar
  20. Geraci JR, Lounsbury VJ (1993) Marine mammals ashore. A field guide for strandings, 1st edition. Galveston, TX: Texas A&M University sea, Grant College programGoogle Scholar
  21. Handley CO (1966) A synopsis of the genus Kogia (pygmy sperm whales). In: Norris KS (ed) Whales, dolphins, and porpoises. University of California Press, Los Angeles, CA, pp 62–69Google Scholar
  22. Hart KM, Mooreside P, Crowder LB (2006) Interpreting the spatio-temporal patterns of sea turtle strandings: going with the flow. Biol Conserv 129:283–290Google Scholar
  23. Hazevoet CJ, Monteiro V, Lopez P, Varo N, Torda G, Berrow S, Gravanita B (2010) Recent data on whales and dolphins (Mammalia: Cetacea) from the Cape Verde Islands, including records of four taxa new to the archipelago. Zool Caboverdiana 1(2):75–99Google Scholar
  24. Jefferson, TA, Webber, MA, Pitman, RL (2015) Marine mammals of the world, a comprehensive guide to their identification, second edition, Academic Press, 616pGoogle Scholar
  25. Jerdon TC (1867) A Handbook of the Mammals of India. Indian edition, 1989, Mittal Publications, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  26. Jeyabaskaran R, Vivekanandan E (2013) Marine mammals and fisheries interactions in Indian seas. Regional symposium on ecosystem approaches to marine fisheries and biodiversity, October 27–30, 2013, Kochi WDCS, Marine Mammal Network, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  27. Kinze CC (2003) Marine mammals of the North Atlantic. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  28. Kiszka J, Erst P, Ridoux V (2007) Cetacean diversity around the Mozambique Channel island of Mayotte (Comoros archipelago). J Cetacean Res Manag 9(2):105–109Google Scholar
  29. Kiszka J, Muir C, Amir O, Drouot-Dulau V, Poonian C, Razafindrakoto Y, Wambiji N (2008) Incidental catch of marine mammals in the southwest Indian Ocean: a preliminary review. Community Centred Conservation (C3) document, Accessed on 12 Mar 2012
  30. Kiszka J, Erst P, Ridoux V (2010) Structure of a toothed cetacean community around a tropical island (Mayotte, Mozambique Channel). Afr J Mar Sci 32(3):543–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kumar S, Stecher G, Tamura K (2016) MEGA7: molecular evolutionary genetics analysis version 7.0 for bigger datasets. Mol Biol Evol 33:1870–1874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kumaran PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India – a review and critique of the methods. Curr Sci 83(10):1210–1220Google Scholar
  33. Leatherwood S, Donovan GP (1990) Preface In: Leatherwood S, Donovan GP (eds). Cetaceans and Cetacean Research in the Indian Ocean Sanctuary, Marine Mammal Technical Report Number 3, Nairobi, United Nations Environment ProgrammeGoogle Scholar
  34. Maldini D, Mazzuca L, Atkinson S (2005) Odontocete stranding patterns in the main Hawaiian islands (1937–2002): how do they compare with live animal surveys? Pac Sci 59:55–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Maldonado CM, Giannoni MA (1999) Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with a review of Kogia in the Caribbean. Caribb J Sci 35:29–37Google Scholar
  36. Molur S, Nameer PO, Walker S (eds) (1998) Report of Workshop “Conservation Assessment and Management Action Plan for Mammals of India” (BCPP-Endangered Species Project), Zoo Outreach Organisation, Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, India, CoimbatoreGoogle Scholar
  37. Moses ST (1947) Stranding of whales on the coasts of India. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 47(2):377–379Google Scholar
  38. Nagorsen DW, Stewart GE (1983) A dwarf sperm whale (Kogia simus) from the Pacific coast of Canada. J Mammal 64:505–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nameer PO (2000) Checklist of Indian Mammals. Kerala Forest Department and Kerala Agricultural University, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  40. Palacios-Alfaro JS (2009) First record of the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) in Caribbean waters of Costa Rica. Lat Am J Aquat Mamm 7(1–2):103Google Scholar
  41. Palumbi SR, Martin AP, Romano SL, McMillan WO, Stice L, Grabowski G (1991) The simple Fool’s guide to PCR. Dept. In: Of zoology. University of Hawaii, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  42. Pillay RSN (1926) List of cetaceans taken in Travancore from 1902 to 1925. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 31(3):815–817Google Scholar
  43. Plon S (2004) The status and Nat Hist of pygmy (Kogia breviceps) and dwarf (K. sima) sperm whales off Southern Africa. PhD thesis. Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  44. Rice DW (1998) Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution. In: Wartzok D (ed), Society for Marine Mammalogy, special publication number 4, Lawrence, KS, USAGoogle Scholar
  45. Ross GJB (1979) Records of pygmy and dwarf sperm whales, genus Kogia, from southern Africa, with biological notes and some comparisons. Annals of the Cape Provincial Museums (Natural History) 15:259–327Google Scholar
  46. Santos MCO, Siciliano S, de Castro Vicente AF, Alvarenga FS, Zampirolli E, de Souza SP, Maranho A (2010) Cetacean records along São Paulo state coast, south eastern Brazil. Braz J Oceanogr 58(2):123–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sathasivam K (2000) A catalogue of Indian marine mammal records. Blackbuck 16(2 and 3):23–74Google Scholar
  48. Verma SK, Singh L (2003) Novel universal primers establish identity of an enormous number of animal species for forensic application. Mol Ecol Resour 3(1):28–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wade PR, Gerrodette T (1993) Estimates of cetacean abundance and distribution in the eastern tropical Pacific. Report of the International Whaling Commission (Special Issue 6, 43):477–493Google Scholar
  50. Willis PM, Baird RW (1998) Status of dwarf sperm whale, Kogia simus, with special reference to Canada. 112:Can Field Nat, 115–Can Field N25Google Scholar
  51. Witt MJ, Penrose R, Godley BJ (2006) Spatio-temporal patterns of juvenile marine turtle occurrence in waters of the European continental shelf. Mar Biol 151:873–885Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of IndiaCochinIndia
  2. 2.Department of Marine Biology, School of Ocean Science and TechnologyKerala University of Fisheries and Ocean StudiesCochinIndia
  3. 3.Department of AquaculturePM Sayeed Calicut University CentreUnion Territory of LakshadweepIndia

Personalised recommendations