Sperm Whale

Latin: Physeter macrocephalus
English: Sperm whale
Norwegian: Spermhval

In many ways, the sperm whale can claim the title "lord of the sea". It ranges throughout most of the world's oceans, except the high Arctic. It has the largest brain of any animals, and is the largest toothed whale - the male can be as long as 20 meters.

The sperm whale has a number of physical features that make it almost instantly identifiable. At a distance, first seen is often the blow, which is directed forward and a little to the left. (the blowhole is on the left side of the forward position of the head). At closer range, you can see the low hump that barely passes for a dorsal fin, followed by a series of bumps leading to the tail.

Sperm whales make long, deep dives, possibly up to 3.000 meters that can last up to two hours. Before diving, they lift their flukes.

Source: Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises; Mark Carwardine, Erich Hoyt, et all.

photo: Jan van Twillert

Listen to the sperm whale

North Atlantic Society 2012