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Quick Facts
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Family: Physeteridae
Genus: Physeter
Species: macrocephalus

Length: 432 - 708 inches
Weight: 26000 - 90000 lbs
Gestation: 420 - 485 days
Offspring: 1
Life Span: 70 years
Top Speed (Water): 27 mph

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Sperm Whale

Physeter macrocephalus

Also Called: Cachalot


The head of the sperm whale is its most distinctive feature. It is very blunt and square with a small lower jaw and can take up 1/3 of its total body length. The sperm whale has a single blowhole and its blows project forward and to the left (instead of straight up as in other whales.) The sperm whale is primarily a dark, brownish gray with white patches around its mouth and with a lighter gray ventralWhat does ventral mean? surface. The skin of the sperm whale is very wrinkled particularly behind its head. The sperm whale does not have a pronounced dorsalWhat does dorsal mean? fin. It is more of a large bump on its back. However, the flukeWhat does fluke mean? of a sperm whale is very large (16 ft). The sperm whale is the deepest of the whale divers and can dive to depths of 3300 feet and stay down for over an hour. At these depths, there is no visible solar light so sperm whales use a highly developed sonarWhat does sonar mean? system. It is possible that they use bursts of sound to stun preyWhat does prey mean?. In the forward part of a sperm whales head is the spermaceti organ. Whalers prized the waxy, oil-like material in this organ. They also wanted the ambergris (used for perfume) that develops in the sperm whales lower intestine.


The primary food source of the sperm whale is the medium deep water squid. They will eat fish, octopus, and other marine animals as well. Occasionally they will catch and eat a giant squid.


Sperm whales are found in all oceans of the world. The females and young usually stay in the warmer equatorial waters and males roam the world until breeding season.


The primary predatorWhat does predator mean? of the sperm whale is man.


The basic social group of the sperm whale is a pod of 10 to 20 females and young. Within this group, there is communalWhat does communal mean? care for the young. Female calves will stay with this group for life while males leave after puberty. When males leave, they often join other groups of younger male sperm whales. As they grow older, they tend to be more solitaryWhat does solitary mean?.


Female sperm whales usually give birth to one calf at a time. The calf weighs about 1 ton at birth. The calf stays with its mother and nurses for two years.


SonarWhat does Sonar mean? is used to aid in navigation and hunting.

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