Sperm Whale
Whale Watching South Africa

Name : Sperm Whale
Scientific Name : Physeter macrocephalus
Class : Mammalia
Family : Physeteridae
Order : Cetacea (suborder) - Odontoceti
Shape : At a distance, its angled, bushy blow is usually sufficient for its identification. Its huge, square-shaped head contains a huge cavity, called the spermaceti organ, and narrow bottom jaw (measuring a third of the body length) and wrinkly, prune-like skin are unmistakable. 36 - 50 thick, conical teeth grow up to 20 cm long and may weigh over 1 kg. Females have fewer, smaller teeth. Small inconspicuous eyes.
Fins : Small, wide pectoral fins with round tips, big strong flukes. Knuckles between hump and flukes.
Length : Adults measure between 11 - 18 metres (males) and 13 metres (females). Newborns measure between 3.5 - 4.5 metres.
Weight : Adults weigh between 20 and 50 tons. Newborns weigh 1 ton.
Colour : Uniform purplish-brown to dark grey body colour (paler in calves) with grey or off-white underside; area may increase with age.
Diet : Giant squid and fish.
Population : The Sperm Whale was one of the most heavily exploited of all the world's whales, although it is still relatively abundant.
Migration : There is a general movement towards the poles in summer: older males migrate as far as the edges of polar ice, but females and juveniles rarely venture beyond 45 degrees north or 42 degrees south.
Habits : Sometimes found in large groups of about 20 (mostly one bull with his cows). Older males tend to be solitary, or live in small groups of up to 6 animals. Can dive 2 000 metres and stay underwater for over two hours. Easily stranded when in shallower waters. Blow is angled at 45 degrees to the left and forward.
Distribution : Widely distributed in deep waters worldwide, both offshore and inshore.

Types of Whales

Find out all you need to know about the different types of whales and their habitats......more
Whale Watching South Africa : Whale Trail Hermanus, Cape Whale Coast, Garden Route
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