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View German filmmaker cutting board Behrend capturing the moment of the bear of a sperm whale calf in waters turn off the Greek coast

sperm whale, (Physeter catodon), also called cachalot, the biggest of the toothed whales, quickly recognized by its substantial square head and narrow reduced jaw. The sperm whale is dark blue-gray or brownish, v white spot on the belly. It is thickset and has tiny paddlelike flippers and also a collection of rounded humps ~ above its back. Males achieve a maximum size of around 24 metres (78.7 feet) and also weigh approximately 50 metric lots (55.1 tons). Females room smaller, generally measuring less than around 14 metres (45.9 feet) and also weighing less than 25 metric lots (27.6 tons).

Sperm whales room deep divers, frequently reaching a depth of around 350 metres (1,150 feet), and have been discovered tangled in cables more than 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) below the surface. That is not unusual for sperm whales come dive because that an hour or more and climate spend around 10 minutes at the surface ar breathing as soon as every 10 seconds. They can cruise at a speed of 4 knots (7.4 km/hr, or 4.6 mph) and also swim in spurts at up to 20 knots (37 km/hr, or 23 mph).


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These cetaceans are uncovered in temperate and tropical waters throughout the world, usually in pods (groups) of about 15 come 20; solitary males, however, might wander into chillier regions. Sperm whales attain sexual maturity at 7 come 13 year of age and physical maturity at 25 to 45 years and have been tape-recorded to live as lengthy as 62 years. Castle feed primarily on cephalopods, consisting of the gigantic squid (Architeuthis dux).

The sperm whale is the most evolutionarily amendment of the toothed whales. The head constitutes one-third the the complete body size and, the is estimated, higher than a 3rd of the human body weight. The lower jaw is commonly equipped with 36 to 50 large conical teeth; the top jaw hold a variable variety of vestigial teeth that do not erupt. The head features an elaborately arisen nose and also upper lip whereby the fluid-filled spermaceti organ (which whalers referred to as the case) is located; sperm oil and spermaceti were extracted from this fluid for lighting and lubrication. The spermaceti organ is unique to sperm whales. It has a volume as large as 2,000 litres (530 gallons) and also can prolong through 40 percent of the whale’s length.


The role of the spermaceti organ has actually not however been conclusively demonstrated. Proposal of its role pertain greatly to diving. It may close the sleep passages, act together a pressure pump because that the bony nares, or offer in part as a hydrostatic organ by squeezing oil come one finish or the other through contractions the its muscular sheath. Various other theories suggest that the assists in the evacuation of the lungs prior to a deep dive, absorbs nitrogen at excessive underwater pressure, or acts as a buoyancy regulator to aid the whale when descending and ascending native deep dives. The spermaceti organ might serve these said purposes singly or in combination. It can even it is in a reverberation chamber provided by the sperm whale in producing its distinctive pulsed signals, i m sorry are supplied for echolocation and communication.

Sperm whales were when commercially beneficial and were pursued for number of centuries. The White Whale hunted in Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick (1851) is presumably an albino sperm whale. Ambergris, a product sometimes discovered floating in the sea, is created in the sperm whale’s intestines about a core of undigested solid issue such together squid beaks.

Scientists have determined that sperm whales interact with one an additional using a collection of clicks called codas and that every coda has a unique purpose. They note that slight coda differences exist between sperm whale communities and that sperm whales have actually developed regional accents and dialects. In addition, there is some proof that ford that have occurred defensive behaviours that enable them to protect against whaling vessels and also harpoons may be able to communicate these behaviours to more-naive pods.

Physeter is Greek for “blower,” an allusion to the sperm whale’s breathing. The pygmy and dwarf sperm whales (Kogia breviceps and also K. Simus) room the just other members that the household Physeteridae. This little-known dolphinlike whales are gray above and white below, and they are quite small—about 2.5 to 4 metres (8 to 13 feet) long. They space distributed global in offshore waters indigenous equatorial to pleasant regions and have no advertising value. The household Physeteridae diverged from the rest of the toothed whales (suborder Odontoceti) really early. Huge sperm whales with all of the characteristics of present-day sperm whales live 20 million years earlier during the early on Miocene (about 23 million to 16 million years ago). This early divergence makes conclusions around sperm whale relationship provisional.

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The editors of Encyclopaedia chrischona2015.org This post was most recently revised and also updated by man P. Rafferty, Editor.