T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Whale (Sperm) Physeter macrocephalus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Infraorder: Cetacea
Family: Physeteridae
Genus: Physeter
Species: P. macrocephalus
Binomial name: Physeter macrocephalus
Common name: Sperm whale. 

Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) is a pelagic mammal with a worldwide range. They will migrate seasonally for feeding and breeding. The name sperm whale is a truncation of spermaceti whale. Spermaceti is the semi-liquid, waxy substance found within the whale's head. Spermaceti (sperm oil) was a prime target of the whaling industry and was sought after for use in oil lamps, lubricants, and candles. Ambergris is a solid waxy waste product present in its digestive system is often washed ashore as flotsam and are gathered by beachcombers. Today it is still highly valued as a fixative in perfumes, among other uses. Beachcast ambergris is worth $23.000 NZ per gram (in 20!8). 

The sperm whale is the largest toothed whale, with adult males measuring up to 20.5 metres long and weighing up to 57,000 kilograms. They have a wrinkly skin and a large rather square head that makes up around one-third of their body length. They are purplish-brown or dark grey in colour, with white underneath. The dorsal fin has been reduced to a low hump.
The sperm whale's blowhole is at an angle on the left side of its head. The bushy spout sprays to the left and forward. 
Females and young males live together in groups, while mature males (bulls) live solitary lives outside of the mating season. 
They prefer deep water (>1000m) and so are usually found offshore and in areas with submarine canyons, such as Kaikoura off the east coast of the South Island. This area is the main New Zealand population of sperm whales, it includes both resident and transient individuals. They are present all year round. They dive to great depths feeding on large organisms, mainly squids, sharks and rays. Dives have been known to last for over one hour and can be deeper a 2,250 m. 
A mature sperm whale has few natural predators, although calves and weakened adults are sometimes killed by pods of orcas (killer whales). Sperm whales can live for more than 60 years.



Below is of a photo of an artwork of an artificial sperm by the artist Dirk Claesen.
The photo was taken at Scheveningen beach in the Netherlands,





Male and female size difference.




The photo below is of a sperm whales scrimshaw.
The making of scrimshaw began on whaling ships between 1745 and 1759 on the Pacific Ocean and survived until the ban on commercial whaling. Scrimshaw essentially was a leisure activity for whalers. Because the work of whaling was very dangerous at the best of times, whalers were unable to work at night. This gave them a great deal more free time than other sailors.



Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/