SPERM WHALE
Physeter catadon

Habitat: Sperm whales typically are found in the open ocean.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 60 feet long.

Natural history: Sperm whales might be the most recognized of all whales. When we think of Moby Dick it is the Sperm whale. The Sperm whale is different from the baleen whales; it is a toothed whale. Toothed whales generally are smaller, more social and live together in family groups called pods. Toothed whales use echolocation to hunt in the deep and dark waters. They produce sound waves that travel through the water and echo off an object. Echolocation allows the whale to "see" the size and shape of its prey. Sperm whales eat giant squid, fish and octopuses. Chasing giant squid means the Sperm whale has to dive deep. Scientists believe they routinely dive to 3,000 feet and may dive to more than 9,000 feet. Dives have been timed lasting more than two hours. The shape of the Sperm whale's body is unique. Almost a third of its length is its large, squared-off, blunt head. It is filled with a waxy substance, called spermaceti. It is believed to help the whale deal with the great pressure changes associated with deep diving. Females give birth to calves that can be more than 14 feet long. Sperm whales can live to be 70 years old.

Range: Found in all oceans, except the polar ice fields.


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