Information

The sperm whale - Wanted poster


Characteristics

Surname: Sperm whale
Latin name: Physeter catodon
class: Mammals
size: 12 - 20m
mass: 20 - 50t (20,000 - 50,000kg)
Older: 40 - 70 years
Appearance: dark gray to black skin, slightly lighter belly
Sexual dimorphism: Yes
food: Octopus, rays, crabs, fish
distribution: worldwide
original origin: unknown
Sleep-wake rhythm: diurnal
habitat: Sea, ocean
natural enemies: no
sexual maturity: female whales around the age of ten, male whales at least 20 years old
mating season: in principle possible all year round
gestation: 12 - 16 months
litter size: 1 cub
social behavior: group building
Threatened with extinction: Yes
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.

Interesting about the sperm whale

  • The sperm whale or Physeter catodon describes its own species within the toothed whales and is considered the largest representative of this order.
  • It is found in all the seas and oceans of the world, where it moves at speeds of up to twenty kilometers per hour.
  • While the males migrate to the marginal seas and polar regions, the females and calves spend most of their lives in tropical and subtropical waters.
  • Sperm whales are also found in Europe, where they are occasionally spotted in the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as well as in the Atlantic Ocean near Portugal and the Azores.
  • The sperm whale is not only the largest tooth whale but also the world's largest toothed mammal.
  • It reaches body lengths of up to twenty meters and a weight of up to 50 tons, with the males being significantly larger than the females.
  • The most striking feature of the streamlined sperm whale is its huge box-shaped head, which can make up to a third of the entire body length. In the head is the so-called spermaceti organ, which serves the sperm whale with a weight of up to two tons primarily as a diving aid. It is filled with spermaceti, a light oily wax.
  • The blowhole of the sperm whale appears s-shaped and lies on the left side of the head.
  • Compared to the huge caudal fin, thoracic and dorsal fins are of small size.
  • Sperm whales may be dark gray, dark brown or almost black on the upper side, the underside is slightly lighter.
  • Sperm whales can dive up to three thousand feet deep.
  • They feed mainly on octopus and giant squid, with which they often fiercely fights before they can overwhelm them. The suckers of the octopuses leave on the skin of the sperm whale clearly visible scars.
  • Sperm whales also catch small sharks, rays, large crustaceans and fish.
  • The mating season depends on the area of ​​distribution. A male animal mates with up to ten females in a row.
  • The females give birth to a single calf only every four to six years and after a gestation period of up to fifteen months, which is nursed by the mother for more than three years.
  • The life expectancy of sperm whales is up to seventy years.
  • Worldwide, the stock of sperm whales is estimated at about one million copies.