Sperm Whale Info – Meet The World’s Largest Toothed Predator

The sperm whale is the world’s largest toothed predator, and one of many deepest-diving, looking big squid at depths of over 2 km / 1.24 miles beneath the floor.

Moby Dick, the fearsome “white whale” in Herman Melville’s e-book of the identical identify, was primarily based on a sperm whale. Melville’s story was partly primarily based on an actual incident wherein a whaling ship was sunk after having been attacked by a sperm whale.

On this web page you’ll discover a full information to this formidable marine mammal…

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Sperm Whale
The sperm whale is a toothed whale.

Prime Sperm Whale Info

  • The sperm whale is the biggest toothed whale, and the world’s largest dwelling toothed predator.
  • The sperm whale has the biggest mind of any animal. A sperm whale’s mind weighs round 7.8 kilograms (17 lb) on common.
  • The clicks produced by a sperm whale can attain a quantity of 230 decibels, and are the loudest-known sounds produced by an animal.
  • The sperm whale is the threerd deepest diving mammal; solely the southern elephant seal and Cuvier’s beaked whale are recognized to dive deeper.
  • Sperm whales can reside for 70 years or extra
  • Moby Dick, the fearsome “white whale” in Herman Melville’s e-book of the identical identify, was primarily based on a sperm whale
  • The sperm whale will not be solely the biggest toothed whale, but in addition the world’s largest toothed predator.
  • Ambergris is a uncommon and invaluable substance produced within the digestive system of sperm whales. As soon as aged, is utilized in perfumery for its distinctive skill to repair scent to human pores and skin. The sharp beaks of consumed squid are thought to instigate the manufacturing of ambergris.
  • It’s estimated that the world’s sperm whale inhabitants consumes solely barely much less seafood annually than the whole world human inhabitants.
  • The sperm whale is among the many most sexually dimorphic of all cetaceans, with males being considerably longer, and over twice the load, of females. (Sexual dimorphism is the distinction in bodily traits between men and women.)

What Is A Sperm Whale?

Sperm Whale Near Surface

The sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, is marine mammal belonging to the group Cetacea, which is residence to all whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Sperm whales are simply recognizable by their huge heads, which might make as much as one-third of their whole physique size, and their distinctive box-like form. They’re named for the waxy substance referred to as spermaceti discovered of their giant heads, as soon as mistaken for sperm by early whalers (therefore the whale’s frequent identify).

Distributed all through the world’s oceans, sperm whales desire deep waters wherein they’ll dive to depths of over 2,000 meters (1.24 miles) in the hunt for meals, primarily big squid. They’re among the many deepest diving of all mammals.

Sperm whales have a fancy social construction, with females and juveniles dwelling in teams whereas mature males are usually solitary or transfer from group to group.

The species is understood for its distinctive vocalizations, or “clicks,” which it makes use of for echolocation and communication.

The sperm whale was as soon as closely hunted for its blubber and spermaceti. Overhunting brought about the species’ inhabitants to fall to round a 3rd of its authentic dimension. Regardless of now being protected, the slow-breeding species is struggling to extend its inhabitants.

Toothed Whales

The sperm whale is a toothed whale. Toothed whales belong to the suborder Odontoceti, one of many two principal teams of whales (the opposite being the baleen whales of parvorder Mysticeti).

Toothed whales are distinguished from baleen whales by having tooth as a substitute of baleen plates, a single blowhole (as a substitute of two blowholes), and a extra developed sense of echolocation.

Examples of toothed whales embrace dolphins (together with the killer whale), beaked whales, and sperm whales.

Sperm Whale Statistics

  • Scientific Title: Physeter macrocephalus
  • Order: Cetartiodactyla
  • Household: Physeteridae
  • Size: as much as 18 meters (60 toes)
  • Weight: As much as 45,000 kilograms (99,208 kilos)
  • The place Discovered: Deep ocean waters worldwide
  • Conservation Standing: Susceptible

What Does A Sperm Whale Look Like?

Sperm Whale
The sperm whale has a box-like head and slender decrease jaw.

One of the distinctive giant whales, the sperm whale has a box-like form with a blunt, squarish brow and a slender decrease jaw. The whale’s monumental head constitutes about one-third of its whole physique size.

The whale’s pores and skin is darkish gray or brownish, with lighter-colored undersides. A single blowhole is situated on the left of the highest of the pinnacle, inflicting the whale’s spout to be angled ahead and to the left.

The sperm whale’s flippers are brief and huge and situated barely behind the pinnacle, whereas the flukes (tail fins) are broad and triangular, with a deep notch within the center.

There’s a sequence of ridges alongside the whale’s again, resulting in a small, triangular dorsal fin in direction of the tail.

The whale’s tooth, discovered solely on the decrease jaw, will be fairly giant (as much as 20 centimeters in size and 1 kg / 2.2 lb in weight) and match into corresponding sockets within the higher jaw when the whale’s slender mouth is closed.

Though they give the impression of being small relative to dimension of its physique, the sperm whale’s eyes are among the many largest of all mammals, measuring 7×7×3 cm and weighing round 170 g.

Dwarf Sperm Whale
Dwarf Sperm Whale

The sperm whale is the one dwelling member of its household, Physeteridae. The whale is an element of a bigger superfamily, Physeteroidea, which additionally contains the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) and the pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps), each of which belong to the household Kogiidae.

Though considerably smaller than the sperm whale (each are across the dimension of a big dolphin), the dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm whale share a number of traits with their bigger cousin, together with a spermaceti organ of their heads and a predilection for deep-water squid.

Whereas these are the closest dwelling kin to the sperm whale, quite a few extinct kin, recognized from fossils, additionally belonged to those households and to different households inside Physeteroidea.

The place Are Sperm Whales Discovered?

Sperm whales are discovered all through the world’s oceans, making them some of the extensively distributed mammals on the planet. They’re a pelagic species, which suggests they have a tendency to inhabit the open ocean fairly than areas close to the coast.

Sperm whales are often present in waters which might be over 1,000 meters deep, though they’re recognized to often enterprise into shallower waters. They inhabit each tropical and funky waters, together with the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, in addition to the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas.

Sometimes, solely grownup males are present in increased latitude, colder waters, whereas females and younger males have a tendency to stay in tropical and subtropical areas. Males embark on long-distance migrations between these areas, particularly through the breeding season.

The extremely migratory nature of sperm whales, mixed with their deep-diving habits, make them considerably elusive and difficult to check, which suggests there’s nonetheless a lot to study their world distribution and migratory patterns.

Sperm Whale Eating regimen & Looking

The sperm whale’s weight-reduction plan primarily consists of cephalopods, with a robust choice for squid – particularly, the big squid and colossal squid – however it additionally eats octopuses and fish, together with rays and sharks.

A sperm whale can eat about 3% of its physique weight per day, which equates to round a ton of meals for an grownup male.


The sperm whale dives to nice depths when looking, and has been recorded at depths of as much as 2,250 meters (7,382 ft / 1.4 miles). It’s the third-deepest diving mammal, after the southern elephant seal and Cuvier’s beaked whale.

The whale’s dives can final for round an hour, however often final nearer to 35-45 minutes, adopted by a interval of restoration on the floor.


The sperm whale makes use of a extremely developed type of echolocation to find its prey. It produces a sequence of clicks that bounce off its prey, and by deciphering the returning echoes, the whale creates a psychological picture of its goal.

The whale’s clicks are the loudest sound produced by any animal, measuring as much as 230 decibels, which is louder than a jet aircraft taking off.

Utilizing echolocation permits the whale to hunt within the pitch-black environments of the deep ocean the place daylight doesn’t penetrate.

As soon as prey has been situated the whale strikes in quickly and captures its sufferer utilizing its robust jaws and sharp tooth.

Sperm Whale Life Cycle

Sperm Whale Pod
Sperm whale with calf

A feminine sperm whales give delivery to a single calf roughly each 4 to twenty years, after a gestation interval that lasts about 14 to 16 months.

A new child calf can measure as much as 13 toes (4 meters) in size.

Sperm whales have one of many longest durations of parental care within the animal kingdom. Infants are nursed for a number of years – in some circumstances, over a decade.

Because the younger whales develop, they keep inside a social group comprised of females and juveniles. Males usually go away these “nursery colleges” between the ages of 4 and 21 years to hitch “bachelor colleges” of different equally aged males or reside solitarily. Throughout this time, they proceed to develop and mature, with males rising considerably bigger than females.

Sperm whales are usually not thought-about sexually mature till they’re about 10 years outdated for females and no less than 18 years outdated for males. Nonetheless, it’s frequent for males to not efficiently reproduce till they’re nicely into their twenties or thirties, as bigger, older males are usually extra profitable in mating.

Females usually cease reproducing by about age 40 however can reside for a number of extra many years. Males can proceed to breed into outdated age.

The lifespan of a sperm whale is spectacular, with females dwelling as much as 70 years and males dwelling about 50 years, though there are data of some people surpassing these ages.

Are Sperm Whales Endangered?

Though not presently endangered, the sperm whale is a threatened species, and is listed as “Susceptible” on the IUCN’s Crimson Record.

Threats to sperm whales embrace entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes, ocean noise, air pollution, and traditionally, industrial whaling. Regardless of the ban on industrial whaling by the Worldwide Whaling Fee in 1986, sperm whale populations are nonetheless recovering, resulting from their exceptionally lengthy life cycle.

Sperm Whale Predators

Orca Killer Whale Jumping
The killer whale, or orca, will goal sperm whale calves.

A mature sperm whale is a big and formidable opponent and has no pure predators. Sperm whale calves and sick adults are sometimes focused by pods of killer whales.

Moby Dick

“Moby Dick,” the famend novel by Herman Melville, was impressed each by the story of a real-life sperm whale generally known as Mocha Dick and the notorious maritime tragedy of the whaleship Essex.

Mocha Dick was a infamous albino sperm whale recognized for its formidable dimension and tenacity, continuously battling whaling ships within the early nineteenth century close to the island of Mocha, off the coast of Chile.

The Essex was a Nantucket whaling ship that was sunk by a big sperm whale within the Pacific Ocean in 1820. The survivors endured a harrowing ordeal at sea that turned a widely known story of survival.

Melville was influenced by each of those occasions, fusing them into his fictional narrative the place the white whale, Moby Dick, embodied the untamed and indestructible pressure of nature, perpetually pursued by the obsessive Captain Ahab.

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