[36] In 1853, one sperm whale was reported at 62 feet (19 m) in length with a head measuring 20 feet (6.1 m). [157] Battles between sperm whales and giant squid or colossal squid have never been observed by humans; however, white scars are believed to be caused by the large squid. [10] Sperm whales are usually found in deep, off-shore waters, but may be seen closer to shore, in areas where the continental shelf is small and drops quickly to depths of 310 to 920 metres (1,020 to 3,020 ft). Its synonymous specific name catodon means "down-tooth", from the Greek elements cat(a)- ("below") and odṓn ("tooth"); so named because it has visible teeth only in its lower jaw. Experimental studies attempting to duplicate this effect have been unable to replicate the supposed injuries, casting doubt on this idea. The heavy and powerful tail of an adult whale is potentially capable of delivering lethal blows. Sperm whales are present in every ocean, and after humans and orca, are the most widely distributed mammal on earth. [67], The sperm whale respiratory system has adapted to cope with drastic pressure changes when diving. [9] Sexually mature females give birth once every 4 to 20 years (pregnancy rates were higher during the whaling era). The most recent version of ITIS has altered its usage from P. catodon to P. macrocephalus,[32] following L. B. Holthuis and more recent (2008) discussions with relevant experts. [90] Geographically separate pods exhibit distinct dialects. Historical catch records suggest there could have been smaller aggression grounds in the Sea of Japan as well. The whale’s spermaceti organ and blubber also hold sperm oil, a pale yellow oil that was used as a superior lighting oil and later as a lubricant and in soap manufacturing. Name: Sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, cachalot Origin: The Real World. And modern biologists assume that it probably functions to help with buoyancy or aid in echolocation 3. [193] Early whalers exploited this behaviour, attracting a whole unit by injuring one of its members. The knobbly surface reflects sound waves that come through the spermaceti organ from the phonic lips. In reality, even the largest whales only ejaculate up to a few gallons of semen at a time, and this ejaculate has nothing to do with the saltiness of the ocean. Herman Melville", "What is a Whale? Linnaeus recognized four species in the Physetergenus (Linnaeus 1758). [248] It was selected because of its specific contribution to the state's history and because of its present-day plight as an endangered species. [161] However, the amount of fish taken is very little compared to what the sperm whale needs per day. Honorific names for whales or families of whales are Tūtarakauika, te Kauika Tangaroa, Wehengakāuki, Ruamano, Taniwha, and Tū-te-raki-hau-noa. Outside breeding grounds, slow clicks are rarely heard, and usually near the surface. [149] Along the Korean Peninsula, the first confirmed observation within the Sea of Japan, eight animals off Guryongpo, was made in 2004 since after the last catches of five whales off Ulsan in 1911,[139][150] while nine whales were observed in the East China Sea side of the peninsula in 1999. Definition of sperm whale in the AudioEnglish.org Dictionary. The sperm whale is also known as the "cachalot", which is thought to derive from the archaic French for "tooth" or "big teeth", as preserved for example in caishau in the Gascon dialect (a word of either Romance[14] or Basque[15] origin). [111] However, more recent work[94] has found many problems with this theory including the lack of anatomical structures for the actual heat exchange. ), usually found at the sea floor, in its belly. By contrast, the auditory system is enlarged. The S-shaped blowhole is located very close to the front of the head and shifted to the whale's left. [9] Like that of other whales, the sperm whale's milk has a higher fat content than that of terrestrial mammals: about 36%,[180] compared to 4% in cow milk. [85] The blood has a high density of red blood cells, which contain oxygen-carrying haemoglobin. They are easily recognized by their enormous square head and narrow lower jaw. During whale harvests, this organ, now called the spermaceti organ, was discovered to contain a white liquid that whalers mistook for the sperm of the whale. The sperm whale or cachalot[a] (Physeter macrocephalus) is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator. They prefer ice-free waters over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) deep. [216], The traditional view has been that Mysticeti (baleen whales) and Odontoceti (toothed whales) arose from more primitive whales early in the Oligocene period, and that the super-family Physeteroidea, which contains the sperm whale, dwarf sperm whale, and pygmy sperm whale, diverged from other toothed whales soon after that, over 23 million years ago. [207], Although the fossil record is poor,[210] several extinct genera have been assigned to the clade Physeteroidea, which includes the last common ancestor of the modern sperm whale, pygmy sperm whales, dwarf sperm whales, and extinct physeteroids. He serves currently as the editor of Earth and life sciences, covering climatology, geology, zoology, and other topics that relate to... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. [227] In the same decade, the British began sperm whaling, employing American ships and personnel. [214] Placoziphius, found in Europe, and Acrophyseter, from Peru, are dated to the late Miocene. It is listed on Appendix I[240] as this species has been categorized as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant proportion of their range and CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. It is the only living member of the genus Physeter and one of three extant species in the sperm whale family, along with the pygmy sperm whale and dwarf sperm whale of the genus Kogia. [151], Grown males are known to enter surprisingly shallow bays to rest (whales will be in state of rest during these occasions). [citation needed] During the hunt, oxygen consumption, together with blood vessel dilation, produces heat and melts the spermaceti, increasing its buoyancy and enabling easy surfacing. In recent confusion on the use of Physeter macrocephalus or P. catodon (both available from Linnaeus (1758)) for the sperm whale, the arguments ultimately hinge on whether or not both are applicable to this species. [193] However, formations in non-dangerous situations have been recorded as well. [3] The species is listed as endangered on the United States Endangered Species Act.[239]. The sclera is very hard and thick, roughly 1 cm anteriorly and 3 cm posteriorly. Modern whaling was more efficient than open-boat whaling, employing steam-powered ships and exploding harpoons. Spermaceti was initially thought to be the whale’s sperm but is actually the semi-liquid, waxy material found in its head. The sound then travels backwards along the length of the nose through the spermaceti organ. Section 2. According to a viral message, the typical blue whale produces more than 400 gallons of sperm when it ejaculates, a factoid offered up to explain why the ocean is salty. [112], Herman Melville's fictional story Moby-Dick suggests that the "case" containing the spermaceti serves as a battering ram for use in fights between males. In most modern publications the sperm whale is classified as the sole species, Physeter macrocephalus, in the family Physeteridae (and thus the only species in its genus). Like other toothed whales, the sperm whale can retract and protrude its eyes, thanks to a 2-cm-thick retractor muscle attached around the eye at the equator,[114] but are unable to roll the eyes in their sockets.[115]. The International Whaling Commission gave the species full protection in 1985, but hunting by Japan in the northern Pacific Ocean continued until 1988. (As far as we can tell, Moby Dick was the only sperm whale that delivered a unique brand of karmic justice to one-legged sea captains bent on vengeance.) [167], The sharp beak of a consumed squid lodged in the whale's intestine may lead to the production of ambergris, analogous to the production of pearls in oysters. Origins of the Names of Ireland's Sperm Whales & That of the Greatest Literary Incarnation of Their Species, Moby Dick [70] On average, females and juveniles blow every 12.5 seconds before dives, while large males blow every 17.5 seconds before dives. [86][87][88] The spermaceti organ may also play a role by adjusting buoyancy (see below). [106] The structure of the junk redistributes physical stress across the skull and may have evolved to protect the head during ramming.[107][108][106]. They will spend much of the time rubbing against each other. (2004). It is typically used when homing in on prey. A mature sperm whale has few natural predators, although calves and weakened adults are sometimes killed by pods of killer whales (orcas). [71] A sperm whale killed 160 km (100 mi) south of Durban, South Africa, after a 1-hour, 50-minute dive was found with two dogfish (Scymnodon sp. The Apex Sperm Whale is a large albino Sperm Whale that lives in The Gulf of Port Clovis in the 2020 shark game, Maneater. In Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the Nautilus fights a group of "cachalots" (sperm whales) to protect a pod of southern right whales from their attacks. [196][197] Bulls have no predators, and are believed to be too large, powerful and aggressive to be threatened by killer whales. Sperm whales gather off Sri Lanka in great number - at least 100, perhaps many more. Thus, your uniqueness should choose a path that is right for only you. [84] More typical dives are around 400 metres (1,310 ft) and 35 minutes in duration. The other adults may jostle and bite the newborn in its first hours. [40], How they choose mates has not been definitively determined. The whale’s common name originated during the heyday of the commercial whaling industry, from the end of the 18th century through the 19th century. According to Fristrup and Harbison (2002),[116] This was during the time when whaling was conducted commercially. Though this didn’t stop early seamen from christening the species with its unfortunate name. Spermaceti, a wax, liquid at body temperature, obtained from the head of a sperm whale or bottlenose whale. [198] Solitary bulls are known to interfere and come to the aid of vulnerable groups nearby. Bones show the same pitting that signals decompression sickness in humans. When dealing with a threat, sperm whales will use their huge head effectively as a battering ram. Spermaceti (sperm oil), from which the whale derives its name, was a prime target of the whaling industry, and was sought after for use in oil lamps, lubricants, and candles. Spermaceti, originally mistakenly identified as the whales' semen, is the semi-liquid, waxy substance found within the whale's head (see below). [40] Odontoceti (toothed whales) breathe air at the surface through a single, S-shaped blowhole, which is extremely skewed to the left. [162] Sperm whales are believed to prey on the megamouth shark, a rare and large deep-sea species discovered in the 1970s. [40], Like elephants, females and their young live in matriarchal groups called pods, while bulls live apart. A 2008 study published in Current Biology recorded evidence that whales may sleep with both sides of the brain. I changed the position of the creatures skeleton to have the head part of the Whale to be inside of the bounding box so you'll have to hit its head to cause any damage. [252], The introduction of plastic waste to the ocean environment by humans is relatively new. [9] Males reach their full size at about age 50. [3] Although both sexes range through temperate and tropical oceans and seas, only adult males populate higher latitudes. [208] However, more recent studies, based on various combinations of comparative anatomy and molecular phylogenetics, criticised Milinkovitch's analysis on technical grounds and reaffirmed that the Odontoceti are monophyletic. Plunging to 2,250 metres (7,382 ft), it is the third deepest diving mammal, exceeded only by the southern elephant seal and Cuvier's beaked whale. It is also covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) and the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MOU). 30 March 2016. How to say sperm whale in Russian. [212] Most sperm whale fossils date from the Miocene period, 23 to 5 million years ago. sperm count definition: 1. the number of live male sperm cells in a particular amount of the liquid in which they are…. The wax therefore solidifies and reduces in volume. Lack of prey? [68][69] Between dives, the sperm whale surfaces to breathe for about eight minutes before diving again. [129] However, each click contains a physical signature which suggests that clicks can be used to identify individuals. Some say Tangaroa (god of the sea) is the ancestor of sea creatures, while others name Te Pūwhakahara, … The sperm whale family is sometimes treated as a superfamily, Physeteroidea (M… (1907) this is even implicit in the name itself for ‘amber’ comes from the Arabic ‘anbar’ which also means the sperm whale in Arabic. These fossils include Ferecetotherium, Idiorophus, Diaphorocetus, Aulophyseter, Orycterocetus, Scaldicetus, Placoziphius, Zygophyseter and Acrophyseter. [17] The term is retained in the Russian word for the animal, кашалот (kashalot), as well as in many other languages. Beachcombers look out for ambergris as flotsam. There is no direct connection between the internal carotid artery and the vessels of the brain. [40] The whales rarely, if ever, leave their group. Such coastal groups were more abundant in pre-whaling days. The spermaceti organ is unique to sperm whales, although bottlenose whales possess a similar organ. A piece of the posterior wall of the frontal sac. [132], Sperm whales are among the most cosmopolitan species. [89][110] The increase in specific density generates a down force of about 392 newtons (88 lbf) and allows the whale to dive with less effort. Certainly the association dates from the earliest reference to ambergris known to me, that of the ninth century Arab traveller. [199] However, the bull sperm whale, when accompanying pods of female sperm whales and their calves as such, may be reportedly unable to effectively dissuade killer whales from their attacks on the group, although the killer whales may end the attack sooner when a bull is present. [219][220][221][222] Ambergris, a solid, waxy, flammable substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales, was also sought as a fixative in perfumery. Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick is based on a true story about a sperm whale that attacked and sank the whaleship Essex. kashalot. Some authors consider the killer whales "usually" behaviorally dominant over sperm whales but express that the two species are "fairly evenly matched", with the killer whales' greater aggression, more considerable biting force for their size and predatory prowess more than compensating for their smaller size. They occurred often in necklaces. The name sperm whale is a truncation of spermaceti whale. "[195], If the killer whale pod is large, its members may sometimes be able to kill adult female sperm whales and can at least injure an entire pod of sperm whales. At the posterior end of this spermaceti complex is the frontal sac, which covers the concave surface of the cranium. Spermaceti, the fine waxy oil produced by sperm whales, was in high demand. The diameter of the aortic arch increases as it leaves the heart. [127], A creak is a rapid series of high-frequency clicks that sounds somewhat like a creaky door hinge. The total annual consumption of prey by sperm whales worldwide is estimated to be about 91 million tonnes (100 million short tons). Whale origins. Tracking of diving whales suggests that groups engage in herding of prey, similar to bait balls created by other species, though the research needs to be confirmed by tracking the prey.[188][189]. This gives it a consistency similar to cottage cheese,[181] which prevents it from dissolving in the water before the calf can eat it. Primary Menu. The name sperm whale is a truncated form of spermaceti whale. [5] Females and young males live together in groups, while mature males (bulls) live solitary lives outside of the mating season. An incident was filmed from a long-line trawler: a killer whale pod was systematically taking fish caught on the trawler's long lines (as the lines were being pulled into the ship) when a male sperm whale appeared to repeatedly charge the killer whale pod in an attempt to drive them away; it was speculated by the film crew that the sperm whale was attempting to access the same fish. It appears that some whales may fall into a deep sleep for about 7 percent of the time, most often between 6 p.m. and midnight. [164], Sperm whales have also been noted to feed on bioluminescent pyrosomes such as Pyrosoma atlanticum. The genus name is a combination of the Ancient Greek word brygmos, which means "biting" or "gnashing", combined with physeter, which is the generic name of the living sperm whale, and also means "blower" in Ancient Greek. "Fatal ingestion of floating net debris by two sperm whales (, Society for Marine Mammalogy Sperm Whale Fact Sheet, US National Marine Fisheries Service Sperm Whale web page, "Physty"-stranded sperm whale nursed back to health and released in 1981, Convention on Migratory Species page on the sperm whale, Website of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region, Official website of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area, Retroposon analysis of major cetacean lineages: The monophyly of toothed whales and the paraphyly of river dolphins, Voices in the Sea - sounds of the sperm whale, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sperm_whale&oldid=991320204, Articles with dead external links from January 2018, Articles with permanently dead external links, Wikipedia indefinitely semi-protected pages, Wikipedia indefinitely move-protected pages, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing Occitan (post 1500)-language text, Articles containing Spanish-language text, Articles containing Portuguese-language text, Articles containing Russian-language text, Articles containing Ancient Greek (to 1453)-language text, Articles with unsourced statements from June 2013, Articles with unsourced statements from July 2019, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. [235], Sperm whales increase levels of primary production and carbon export by depositing iron-rich faeces into surface waters of the Southern Ocean. The etymological dictionary of Corominas says the origin is uncertain, but it suggests that it comes from the Vulgar Latin cappula, plural of cappulum, "sword hilt". Jefferson, T. A., Stacey, P. J., & Baird, R. W. (1991). A; Bannikov, Andrei Grigorevich; Hoffmann, Robert S, This page was last edited on 29 November 2020, at 12:59. [citation needed] Between 184,000 and 236,000 sperm whales were killed by the various whaling nations in the 19th century,[234] while in the 20th century, at least 770,000 were taken, the majority between 1946 and 1980. The head of the sperm whale contains an enormous fluid-filled organ (which whalers called the case). Sperm whaling declined in the second half of the nineteenth century, as petroleum came into broader use. [91][92][93][94][95][96][97][98] Some of the sound will reflect back into the spermaceti organ and back towards the front of the whale's nose, where it will be reflected through the spermaceti organ a third time. Males make a lot of slow clicks in breeding grounds (74% of the time), both near the surface and at depth, which suggests they are primarily mating signals. Bulls will fight with each other over females, and males will mate with multiple females, making them polygynous, but they do not dominate the group as in a harem. [126], Air that passes through the phonic lips passes into the distal sac, then back down through the left nasal passage. Their clicks are among the most powerful sounds in the animal kingdom (see above). Channel 4, Marshall, C. "Morphology, Functional; Diving Adaptations of the Cardiovascular System", p. 770 in, Whitlow, W. "Echolocation", pp. Like the age-rings in a tree, the teeth build distinct layers of cementum and dentine as they grow. [202] However, at some potential feeding sites, the killer whales may prevail over sperm whales even when outnumbered by the sperm whales. They may face inwards with their tails out (the 'marguerite formation', named after the flower). [173], Sperm whales can live 70 years or more. [113] A few famous instances include the well-documented sinking of the ships Essex and Ann Alexander by attackers estimated to weigh only one-fifth as much as the ships.[106]. The sperm whale, unlike other odontocetes, has only one pair of phonic lips, whereas all other toothed whales have two,[109] and it is located at the front of the nose instead of behind the melon. Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors. The killer whales employed a tail outward and tail-slapping defensive position against the bull sperm whale similar to that used by female sperm whales against attacking killer whales. [160] Sperm whales sometimes take sablefish and toothfish from long lines. [80], Atop the whale's skull is positioned a large complex of organs filled with a liquid mixture of fats and waxes called spermaceti. [177] The oldest pregnant female ever recorded was 41 years old. It has a volume as large as 2,000 liters (530 gallons) and can extend through 40 percent of the whale’s length. At birth both sexes are about the same size,[9] but mature males are typically 30% to 50% longer and three times as massive as females. [177] Birth is a social event, as the mother and calf need others to protect them from predators. [27] The 1598 specimen was near Berkhey. Pilot Whale Meaning. [212] Acrophyseter, from the late Miocene, also had teeth in both the upper and lower jaws as well as a short rostrum and an upward curving mandible (lower jaw). [128], A coda is a short pattern of 3 to 20 clicks that is used in social situations. The sperm whale is also known as the "cachalot", which is thought to derive from the archaic French for "tooth" or "big teeth", as preserved for example in caishau in the Gascon dialect (a word of either Romance or Basque origin). [105], Below the spermaceti organ lies the "junk" which consists of compartments of spermaceti separated by cartilage. Prior to the early eighteenth century, hunting was mostly by indigenous Indonesians. Another synonym australasianus ("Australasian") was applied to sperm whales in the Southern Hemisphere. [57] The teeth are cone-shaped and weigh up to 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) each. Judge Paul Dudley, in his Essay upon the Natural History of Whales (1725), states that a certain Atkins, 10 or 12 years in the trade, was among the first to catch sperm whales sometime around 1720 off the New England coast. It is suggested that the whales can see the squid silhouetted above them against the dim surface light. The oxygenated blood can be directed towards only the brain and other essential organs when oxygen levels deplete. [209] The Kogiidae (dwarf and pygmy sperm whales) diverged from the Physeteridae (true sperm whales) at least 8 million years ago.[217]. Moby Dick, marine science and the sublime", Reproduced from the Connecticut State Register & Manual, "Whale and dolphin watching in the Azores". [9][10][11] They are a prime example of a species that has been K-selected, meaning their reproductive strategy is associated with stable environmental conditions and comprises a low birth rate, significant parental aid to offspring, slow maturation, and high longevity. While the left nasal passage opens to the blow hole, the right nasal passage has evolved to supply air to the phonic lips. It is analogous to the melon found in other toothed whales. sperm whale definition: 1. a large whale with a very large, long head 2. a large whale with a very large, long head. [25] In some taxonomic schemes the families Kogiidae and Physeteridae are combined as the superfamily Physeteroidea (see the separate entry on the sperm whale family).[26]. [119], Capable of emitting sounds at a volume of 230 decibels—more than an airplane jet engine at takeoff—the sperm whale is the loudest animal in the world. The most common natural predator of sperm whales is the killer whale, but pilot whales and false killer whales sometimes harass them. Spermaceti, originally mistakenly identified as the whales' semen, is the semi-liquid, waxy substance found within the whale's head (see below). Learn more. The sperm whale has an unmistakable large, square head that contains a spongy tissue soaked with oil and waxes. [19], The sperm whale belongs to the order Cetartiodactyla,[20][21][22][23][24] the order containing all cetaceans and even-toed ungulates. [169] In comparison, human consumption of seafood is estimated to be 115 million tonnes (127 million short tons). [56] Within the basin of the cranium, the openings of the bony narial tubes (from which the nasal passages spring) are skewed towards the left side of the skull. The proportion of wax esters in the spermaceti organ increases with the age of the whale: 38–51% in calves, 58–87% in adult females, and 71–94% in adult males. [44] The Nantucket Whaling Museum has a 5.5 metres (18 ft)-long jawbone; the museum claims that this individual was 24 metres (80 ft) long. Two species of the related extant genus Kogia, the pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps and the dwarf sperm whale K. sima, are placed either in this family or in the family Kogiidae. Our latest episode for parents features the topic of empathy. They inhabit the Mediterranean Sea, but not the Black Sea,[9] while their presence in the Red Sea is uncertain. [37] An individual measuring 20.7 metres (68 ft) was reported from a Soviet whaling fleet near the Kuril Islands in 1950 and is cited by some authors as the largest accurately measured. The left passage runs alongside the spermaceti organ and goes directly to the blowhole, whilst the right passage runs underneath the spermaceti organ and passes air through a pair of phonic lips and into the distal sac at the very front of the nose. The purpose of this complex is to generate powerful and focused clicking sounds, which the sperm whale uses for echolocation and communication. Other than sperm whales, southern right whales had been observed to perform similar formations. Of whaling poor sense of taste and smell beaks accumulate in the second chamber – as as... To associate with their tails out ( the 'heads-out formation ' ) clan! [ 68 ] [ 75 ] similar to that of any other species decompression! Per minute at rest, increasing to 6–7 times per minute after a dive each spring, sperm,! 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Collisions with ships represent the greatest threats to the blowhole and the lens is spherical rest! 127 ], the Dwarf sperm whale, the amount of fish is. & Baird, R. W. ( 1991 ) [ 244 ] Sea, [ 180 ] compared to 640. Martinez, D. R., & Watkins, B more flexible but weaker than the outer areas choose a that. Extensive whaling may have decreased their size, as males were highly sought, primarily after War! A poor sense of taste and smell predator of sperm whales use vision to hunt squid, either detecting... Shark, a coda is a huge variance in the second chamber is and!, a creak is a mixture of triglycerides and wax esters by an estimated percent!, whaling continued unabated to obtain oil for cosmetics and high-performance machinery, such as atlanticum! Followed by one on Ganghwa Island in 2009 as the mother and calf need others to protect nurse. Triangular and very thick most common natural predator of sperm whales are well to! Of P. macrocephalus over P. catodon energy content of roughly 3,840 kcal/kg [! 19Th century, as the case ) has the largest brain on Earth, than...