Sperm Whale

Common Name: Sperm Whale

Type: Mammal

Family: Physeteridae

Range: The sperm whales have a large geographic range. It is presented almost in all oceanic but usually found in continental slope or deeper water. In December and January each year, sperm whales can be observed along the coastal line of the Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.

Size: Sperm whales are the biggest whales that have the teeth. Adult males can reach a size about 50-60 feet (17-20 meter) long. Females are smaller, around 33-40 feet (11-13 meter) long.

Weight: It is weighing about 40-50 tons (36-45 tones). Females are smaller, weighing around 14-18 tons. It has a four chambered heart that weigh about 277 pounds (126 kg) – about as much as two average adult human beings.

Diet: They are Carnivores that habitually eat larger size squid that are available at a great depth in the ocean. They eat fish, skate and octopus.

Average life span: The average life spans of Sperm whales have a life expectancy of more than 70 years.

Habitat: Sperm whales are available in tropical and cool oceans waters. Sperm whales exist at the surface of the ocean but go underwater very deeply to seize the giant squid to eat.

Breeding/Reproduction: Sperm whale breeding is not very dependent on the seasons. The gestation period of Sperm whale is more than 16 months and the calf is born near the surface of the water with tail first. The newly born calf automatically swims to the surface within a period of 10 seconds for its first breath; however, it is helped by its mother. The newly born calf is around 13 feet (4 meter) long and weighs around 1 ton (0.9 tones)most of the time, there is always one calf. The period between births is around 3-4 years. A female Sperm whale reaches at maturity during 9-10 years and males reach maturity at 18-19 years. A female can give birth during the life is about 7-10 calves. Normally, other whales provide assistance during the birth. The baby feeds with its mother’s milk and is weaned in about 2 years. Calves can drink about 45 pounds (20 kg) of milk every day.

Relation to others:
Sperm whale is actually more closely related to the baleen whales.

Sperm whales or Physeter macrocephalus is a member of the Physeteridae Family under the order of Cetacea. It is considered odontocete for having teeth. They got its name because they had a milky whitish wax texture called spermaceti in their head. These types of whales can be seen on oceans all over the world. Males prefer polar water and females fancied warmer more tropical water. Some inhabit the waters on the continental area and deep waters of Costa Rica. Usually they were seen on months of August to December within the coast of Osa Peninsula, as well as the “The Dome” wherein it is a considered as a good habitat because of its flourishing marine life. Also sperm whales are seen in Drake Bay where usually they make it as their breeding ground since it has calm waters. Other places that sperm whale inhabits is the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. Also they are seen on Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife refuge down to Isla Del Cano and Nicoya Peninsula.
Physical characteristics of these species come from its head. It is very big that shapes like a block. Their blowhole shapes like an S and mostly position on the front of the head. Their flukes or tail fins are broad and triangular in shape. The sperm whale has no frontal fin but it has an array of ridges on the back. Their back skin are deemed wrinkly that mostly resembles a prune. They are noted as the species with the largest brain of any animals both extinct and not. But then again even though they had the biggest brain which almost weighs 8 kilograms they were not tagged as the most intelligent. Actually sperm whale has a much below encephalization quotient than some mammals. An adult sperm whale can normally grow up to 67 feet long and weighing approximately 57,000 kilograms. The male length is almost 50% as of the female as well as they weighs 3 times heavy as the females. That is why they are considered amongst all whales as sexual dimorphic.
After mating the female sperm whale carries its baby for almost 16 months. Then after birth they nurtured their young as most mammals do with milk. It was perceived that calves suckle to its mother as well as any other female lactating mother up to 13 years. Reproduction of this species is deemed one of the slowest since females only give birth once every three to six years. Sperm whale usually swims in pods or groups. Mostly in the waters of tropics like Costa Rica you can find a pod consist of mothers and young calves swimming together.

Sperm Whales mostly eat squids from medium sized to giant to colossal squids and octopus. They also sometimes extend their sustenance on fish. These species are known to the good diver and tagged as the deepest diving mammal. They can dive as deep as 9,800 feet. But upon these depths sometimes they are entangled in transoceanic cables so they had a tendency to drown. If they dive, mostly sunlight cannot reach on deep parts of the water. They used their echolocation skills like the bats to find food in the dark. They used sounds like clicks to locate foods using echolocation system. The sperm whale can swim easily at the surface at about 3-9 mph (4.8-14.4 kph). They can get a faster speed, when feeling danger and can gain a speed of 21-27 mph (34-43 kph) for up to an hour.

Most common predators of sperm whale are the orca or killer whales. Other whale species like the false killer whale and pilot whales will also prey on them sometimes. Aside from these predators, human is the main caused this sperm whales are diminishing in numbers. One reason is because of whaling. They kill sperm whale to harvest its spermaceti for variety of uses for candle and soap making as well as in cosmetics and machine oils. Also they are mostly used in creating crayons, pencils, lamp oil and other pharmaceutical uses. They also harvest a waxy substance form its stomach called ambergris being used in making perfumes. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed sperm whale as vulnerable species. So countries bans whaling as well as harvesting sperm whale’s oil to protect the species via the International Whaling Commissions who constitute of protecting Sperm whales since 1985.

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