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


The sperm whale is the world’s largest toothed predator, and one of many deepest-diving, searching 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 title, was primarily based on a sperm whale. Melville’s story was partly primarily based on an actual incident through which 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…

Web page Index

Sperm Whale
The sperm whale is a toothed whale.

Prime Sperm Whale Details

  • 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 title, was primarily based on a sperm whale
  • The sperm whale shouldn’t be solely the biggest toothed whale, but in addition the world’s largest toothed predator.
  • Ambergris is a uncommon and worthwhile 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 every year than the overall international human inhabitants.
  • The sperm whale is among the many most sexually dimorphic of all cetaceans, with males being considerably longer, and over twice the burden, of females. (Sexual dimorphism is the distinction in bodily traits between women and men.)

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 large 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 known as spermaceti discovered of their massive heads, as soon as mistaken for sperm by early whalers (therefore the whale’s widespread title).

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

Sperm whales have a posh 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 prompted the species’ inhabitants to fall to round a 3rd of its authentic measurement. 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 foremost 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 embody dolphins (together with the killer whale), beaked whales, and sperm whales.

Sperm Whale Statistics

  • Scientific Identify: Physeter macrocephalus
  • Order: Cetartiodactyla
  • Household: Physeteridae
  • Size: as much as 18 meters (60 ft)
  • 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 slim decrease jaw.

One of the vital distinctive massive whales, the sperm whale has a box-like form with a blunt, squarish brow and a slim 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 top, inflicting the whale’s spout to be angled ahead and to the left.

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

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

The whale’s tooth, discovered solely on the decrease jaw, may be fairly massive (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 slim mouth is closed.

Though they appear small relative to measurement 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 measurement 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 family members to the sperm whale, quite a few extinct family members, 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 probably the most broadly distributed mammals on the planet. They’re a pelagic species, which implies they have an inclination to inhabit the open ocean slightly 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 review, which implies there’s nonetheless a lot to find out about their international distribution and migratory patterns.

Sperm Whale Eating regimen & Searching

The sperm whale’s food plan primarily consists of cephalopods, with a robust desire for squid – specifically, the big squid and colossal squid – however it additionally eats octopuses and fish, together with rays and sharks.

A sperm whale can devour 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 searching, 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 collection of clicks that bounce off its prey, and by decoding 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 airplane 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 ft (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 instances, 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 affix “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 of sexually mature till they’re about 10 years outdated for females and at the very least 18 years outdated for males. Nevertheless, it’s widespread for males to not efficiently reproduce till they’re properly 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 information 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 Listing.

Threats to sperm whales embody 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, on account of 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 often called Mocha Dick and the notorious maritime tragedy of the whaleship Essex.

Mocha Dick was a infamous albino sperm whale recognized for its formidable measurement and tenacity, incessantly 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 grew to become 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 power of nature, perpetually pursued by the obsessive Captain Ahab.

Uncover Extra With Lively Wild – Additional Studying

Go to our foremost animals web page: Animals

You possibly can see photos and info on EVERY species of dolphin on this web page: Kinds of Dolphins

You possibly can see extra ocean animals on this web page: Ocean Animals Listing with Photos & Details

Yow will discover out extra about mammals on this web page: Mammals – The Final Information

Uncover various kinds of mammals on this web page: Kinds of Mammals


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *