Sperm Whale

General information
Quick Facts
Order Cetacea
Suborder Odontoceti (Toothed whales)
Family Physeteridae (Sperm whales)
Species Physeter macrocephalus
Status Vulnerable
Weight Average 35 tons, up to 58 tons
Diet Deep water squid and fish
Size Average 48 feet, up to 69 feet
Home Deep waters world-wide

Where do sperm whales live?

How deep can a sperm whale dive?

Sperm whales are the deepest diving marine mammals, up to 10,000 feet down! They specialize in hunting giant squid and other large deep water organisms. Only beaked whales can rival sperm whales in diving ability. As sperm whales begin a dive, they exhale all of the air in their lungs which helps them cope with the intense increase in pressure. These dives can take up to two hours! While they are down, they hunt using sounds that they create and then listening for the echoes a sense called echolocation. They tremendous head is due to a oil filled organ called the melon, which serves to focus a beam of sound. This adaptation allows them to hunt in total darkness.

The social lives of Sperm Whales

Like other odontocetes (toothed whales) sperm whales live in pods of multiple animals. They are very social and pod organization can be complex. There are mainly two types of pods: reproductive pods and bachelor pods. Reproductive pods consist of females of all ages and a few males up to 100 animals. Bachelor pods are usually just a few males traveling together. Older males often travel alone. The bond between the female whales can be quite strong many of the females staying together for many years. 

Wurtz, M. and Repetto, N. 2003. Dolphins and Whales. White Star S.r.I. Vercelli, Italy Eder, T. and Sheldon, I. 2002. Whales and Other Marine Mammals of California and Baja. Lone Pine Publishing, Canada.

Artwork Copywrighted 2008