Facts about Sperm whales

Factfile


Scientific name: Physeter macrocephalus
Family: Physeteridae
Range: Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans
Habitat: Deep water
Status: Locally common
Population: 300,000-400,000
Diet: Squid, octopus and fish
Length: 15-18m (49-59ft), males larger
Weight: Males 38-55 tons, Females 20-27 tons


Identification


Flukes: Broad and triangular, with prominent notch
Dorsal fin: Low hump with about 6 knuckles behind
Flippers: Fairly short and stubby
Shape of head: Blunt head is up to one-third of body length. Underslung toothed lower jaw. Blowhole is near the tip of the snout and displaced slightly to the left
Body: Colour is dark grey to purplish brown. Last two-thirds of the body is usually wrinkled like a prune
Group size: Females typically in groups of 10-20 animals, including juveniles of both sexes; “bachelor” males in groups of 10-20; larger males in small groups or travelling alone, except during the breeding season
Behaviour: Normally slow swimming but can rapidly accelerate if disturbed. Often lies almost motionless on the surface (“logging”). Occasionally lobtails or breaches. After a dive of 20-100 minutes, 20-70 blows usually follow at 12-20 second intervals

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