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Sperm Whale image
Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale

(Mammal)

Sperm Whale Baby
Sperm Whale Baby

Sperm Whale Habits

The sperm whale is a sociable animal that lives in groups. The group structure varies according to the age and sex of the whale. Males generally live apart from females. The females form groups together with their young, numbering from five to thirty animals. There are also smaller bachelor pods of young, non-breeding whales as well as the much larger harem groups consisting of many females, young, and a dominant, sexually mature bull.
The whales swim, dive, feed, and sleep together within their group. They also have a language of sonar clicks with which to communicate.
In summer, the whales migrate to feed in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The sperm whale has been ruthlessly hunted by man for centuries, and continues to be persecuted. Whalers have taken advantage of the whale's protective instinct, whereby all members of a group will surround an injured animal in what is know as a Marguerite formation. They harpoon a single sperm whale to attract other whales who come to its rescue and then kill them as well.
Man hunts the sperm whale for food, and for the oil its blubber provides. It is also hunted for the spermaceti wax found in its head and for a substance called ambergris found in the intestines.

Sperm Whale Communication

Specific patterns of clicking sounds that sperm whales make enable others in their pod to distinguish them individually.
Sperm whales produce a series of clicks known as codas to communicate when diving. In essence, there are “coda dialects” that help distinguish one clan of sperm whales from another.

Sperm Whale Breeding

Groups of sperm whales begin their migration to the equator from the Arctic and Antarctic every fall for the winter breeding season. The bulls attempt to form harems of up to thirty adult females.
Fierce fights between rival males for females are not uncommon. Once the harem is established, the bull mates with any female not already pregnant or with young. After mating, the female gives birth 14 - 16 months later. The other females protect her while she is giving birth and then help the calf to the surface to take its first breath. The mother feeds her calf with fat-rich milk for as long as 2 years, by which time it has grown to a length of 23 feet.

Sperm Whale Food & Feeding

The sperm whale feeds on bottom-dwelling organisms such as squid. Sometimes giant squid put up such a struggle that scars are made on the whale's head by the tentacles. Scientists are not certain how the sperm whale catches its prey, but it is believed that the whale stuns it with very loud sound waves.
The sperm whale will also eat snapper, lobster, and even shark. It swallows its prey whole.
An adult whale will eat up to one ton of food every day.

Sperm Whale Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: Males, 50 - 65 ft. Females, 35 - 55 ft
              Weight: Males, average 80,000 lb. Females, 44,000 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: About 10 years (40 ft. long) for males, but they usually breed after 25 years
             Mating: Males, annually. Females, about every 4 years
             Gestation: 14 - 16 months
             Number of young: Single calf
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Sociable, living in groups
            Diet: Bottom-dwelling fish
            Lifespan: Up to 70 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The sperm whale is born without teeth, which do not begin to grow until it reaches sexual maturity. The largest teeth are 11 inches long.
  • A small group of whales is called a pod.
  • The sperm whale can dive 560 feet per minute; it ascends to the surface at 460 feet per minute. When the whale expels air after a deep dive, the noise it makes can be heard half a mile away.
  • Logging is when Sperm Whales lie at the surface to rest with their tails hanging down below.
  • The Sperm Whale was named because of the spermaceti oil it produces which was originally thought to be sperm.

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