Animalia > Chordata > Mammalia > Cetacea > Physeteridae > Physeter > Physeter macrocephalus

Physeter macrocephalus (Sperm Whale)

Synonyms: Physeter australasianus; Physeter australis; Physeter catodon

Wikipedia Abstract

The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), or cachalot, is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator. It is the only living member of 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.Mature males average at 16 metres (52 ft) in length but some may reach 20.5 metres (67 ft), with the head representing up to one-third of the animal's length.
View Wikipedia Record: Physeter macrocephalus

EDGE Analysis

The sperm whale has the largest brain on earth. The head, which also houses the spermaceti organ, occupies about one third of the sperm whale's body. The name sperm whale derives from the oil contained in the spermaceti organ, which early whalers thought looked like semen. In fact the spermaceti organ is used by whales to communicate, which is an important feature of this very sociable animal's life. Sperm whales are found across the globe, avoiding only ice packed oceans. They feed mainly on squid and fish. To catch this prey, sperm whales are able to dive up to 2km deep for 45 minutes at a time. Sperm whales were hunted between the early seventeenth and mid nineteenth century for their oil and this led to a massive decline in population numbers. Today, Japan is the only country which still continues to hunt this species.
Uniqueness Scale: Similiar (0) 
 Unique (100)
Uniqueness & Vulnerability Scale: Similiar & Secure (0) 
 Unique & Vulnerable (100)
ED Score: 42.13
EDGE Score: 5.15
View EDGE Record: Physeter macrocephalus


Adult Weight [1]  15.46 tons (14,025.00 kg)
Birth Weight [2]  1.10 tons (1,000.00 kg)
Female Maturity [2]  8 years
Male Maturity [2]  10 years
Diet [3]  Carnivore (Invertebrates)
Diet - Invertibrates [3]  100 %
Forages - Marine [3]  100 %
Gestation [2]  1 year 4 months
Litter Size [2]  1
Litters / Year [2]  0
Maximum Longevity [2]  77 years
Migration [4]  Interoceanic
Weaning [2]  1 year 6 months

Protected Areas

Name IUCN Category Area acres Location Species Website Climate Land Use
Alto Golfo de California y Delta del Rio Colorado Biosphere Reserve VI 2320468 Sonora, Mexico  
Archipelago de Colon Biosphere Reserve 34336011 Galapagos Islands, Ecuador  
Ascrib, Isay and Dunvegan 6388 Scotland, United Kingdom
California Coast Ranges Biosphere Reserve 153447 California, United States  
Cayos Cochinos Archipelago National Park Natural Marine Monument   Honduras  
Cayos Utila Wildlife Refuge Marine National Park   Honduras      
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary   California, United States
Channel Islands National Park II 139010 California, United States
Coorong National Park II 121235 South Australia, Australia
East Caithness Cliffs 1094 Scotland, United Kingdom
Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve   Florida, United States  
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge IV 352 California, United States
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary IV 2387149 Florida, United States
Gateway National Recreation Area V 1807 New Jersey, United States
Guanaja Marine Reserve 69190 Honduras      
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve II 366714 British Columbia, Canada
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 177278 Hawaii, United States
Hawaiian Islands Biosphere Reserve 245981 Hawaii, United States  
Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun y Punta Nizuc National Park II 21428 Quintana Roo, Mexico    
Kronotskiy Biosphere Reserve 361480 Russia  
Macquarie Island Nature Reserve Ia 233540 Tasmania, Australia  
Moray Firth 373987 Scotland, United Kingdom  
North Bull Island Nature Reserve IV 3544 Ireland  
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve II 137900 British Columbia, Canada
Padre Island National Seashore II 42068 Texas, United States
Palmer LTER Site Long Term Ecological Research   Antarctica    
Point Reyes National Seashore II 27068 California, United States
Prince Edward Island National Park II   Prince Edward Island, Canada  
Redwood National Park II 77867 California, United States
Reserva de la Biosfera El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve VI 6176727 Mexico  
Roatán   Honduras      

Prey / Diet

Albatrossia pectoralis (Pectoral rattail)[5]
Ancistrocheirus lesueurii (sharpear enope squid)[6]
Architeuthis dux (giant squid)[6]
Architeuthis martensi <Unverified Name>[6]
Asperoteuthis acanthoderma[5]
Chiroteuthis picteti[5]
Chiroteuthis veranii (Long-armed Squid)[5]
Cranchia scabra[5]
Cyclopterus lumpus (Lumpsucker)[5]
Discoteuthis laciniosa[5]
Dosidicus gigas (jumbo squid)[6]
Electrona carlsbergi (Electron subantarctic)[7]
Eledone cirrhosa (Curled octopus)[6]
Enoploteuthis chunii[5]
Enteroctopus dofleini (North Pacific giant octopus)[6]
Eptatretus stoutii (Pacific hagfish)[8]
Filippovia knipovitchi (Smooth Hooked Squid)[6]
Gadus chalcogrammus (Whiting)[5]
Galiteuthis phyllura[5]
Gonatopsis okutanii[5]
Gonatus fabricii (boreoatlantic armhook squid)[6]
Histioteuthis atlantica[6]
Histioteuthis bonnellii (umbrella squid)[6]
Histioteuthis celetaria[5]
Histioteuthis corona[5]
Histioteuthis eltaninae[5]
Histioteuthis heteropsis[6]
Histioteuthis macrohista[5]
Histioteuthis meleagroteuthis[5]
Histioteuthis miranda[6]
Icosteus aenigmaticus (Fan-tailed rag-fish)[5]
Idioteuthis cordiformis[5]
Illex argentinus (Argentine Shortfin Squid)[6]
Kondakovia longimana (Giant Warty Squid)[6]
Laemonema longipes (Longfin codling)[5]
Lepidoteuthis grimaldii (Grimaldi Scaled Squid)[6]
Liocranchia reinhardti[5]
Loligo forbesii (Veined Squid)[6]
Lophius piscatorius (Monkfish)[5]
Merluccius productus (Whiting)[9]
Nototodarus gouldi (Gould's squid)[5]
Octopoteuthis megaptera[5]
Octopoteuthis sicula (Ruppell's octopus squid)[5]
Ommastrephes bartramii (red flying squid)[5]
Onychoteuthis aequimanus[5]
Onykia ingens (warty squid)[6]
Onykia loennbergii (Japanese hooked squid)[5]
Onykia robsoni (Rugose Hooked Squid)[6]
Onykia robusta (robust clubhook squid)[6]
Ophiodon elongatus (Lingcod)[8]
Pholidoteuthis massyae[6]
Pollachius virens (Sillock)[5]
Sardinops sagax (Australian pilchard)[10]
Sebastes alutus (Snapper)[5]
Somniosus microcephalus (gray shark)[5]
Squalus acanthias (Common spiny)[5]
Stigmatoteuthis arcturi[5]
Stigmatoteuthis dofleini[6]
Taningia danae (Dana Octopus Squid)[6]
Taonius pavo[5]
Teuthowenia megalops (Atlantic cranch squid)[6]
Thysanoteuthis rhombus (diamond squid)[6]
Todarodes filippovae (Antarctic flying squid)[5]
Todarodes sagittatus (European flying squid)[6]
Trachipterus trachypterus (Mediterranean dealfish)[5]
Vampyroteuthis infernalis (vampire squid)[6]
Xiphias gladius (Swordfish)[5]

Prey / Diet Overlap

Competing SpeciesCommon Prey Count
Alepisaurus ferox (Wolffish)4
Anoplopoma fimbria (Skil)2
Aptenodytes forsteri (Emperor Penguin)2
Aptenodytes patagonicus (King Penguin)4
Arctocephalus gazella (Antarctic Fur Seal)2
Arctocephalus townsendi (Guadalupe Fur Seal)2
Arctocephalus tropicalis (Subantarctic Fur Seal)3
Balaenoptera acutorostrata (Minke Whale)2
Callorhinus ursinus (Northern Fur Seal)2
Centroscymnus coelolepis (Portuguese shark)3
Coryphaena hippurus (Mahi-mahi)5
Diomedea epomophora (Royal Albatross)3
Diomedea exulans (Wandering Albatross)13
Dissostichus eleginoides (Patagonsky klykach)4
Fulmarus glacialoides (Southern Fulmar)3
Gadus morhua (rock cod)3
Globicephala melas (Long-finned Pilot Whale)6
Grampus griseus (Risso's Dolphin)5
Hydrurga leptonyx (Leopard seal)2
Hyperoodon ampullatus (Northern Bottlenose Whale)5
Hyperoodon planifrons (Southern Bottlenose Whale)4
Isurus oxyrinchus (Short-finned mako)4
Kajikia audax (Stripey)2
Katsuwonus pelamis (White bonito)2
Kogia breviceps (Pygmy Sperm Whale)4
Kogia sima (Dwarf Sperm Whale)3
Lagenorhynchus obscurus (Dusky Dolphin)2
Leptonychotes weddellii (Weddell Seal)2
Macronectes giganteus (Southern Giant Petrel)2
Makaira mazara (black spearfish)2
Mirounga angustirostris (Northern Elephant Seal)4
Mirounga leonina (Southern Elephant Seal)3
Orcinus orca (Killer Whale)2
Pagophilus groenlandicus (Harp Seal)3
Phoebastria immutabilis (Laysan Albatross)3
Phoebetria fusca (Sooty Albatross)4
Phoebetria palpebrata (Light-mantled Albatross)2
Prionace glauca (Tribon blou)9
Pterodroma phaeopygia (Galapagos Petrel)2
Pterodroma ultima (Murphy's Petrel)2
Somniosus pacificus (Pacific Sleeper Shark)3
Sphyrna zygaena (Smooth hammerhead shark)3
Stenella attenuata (Pantropical Spotted Dolphin)3
Stenella coeruleoalba (Striped Dolphin)3
Thalassarche chlororhynchos (Yellow-nosed Albatross)2
Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross)5
Thalassarche melanophris (Black-browed Albatross)2
Thalassoica antarctica (Antarctic Petrel)2
Thunnus alalunga (longfinned albacore)4
Thunnus albacares (Yellowfin-tuna)2
Thunnus obesus (Tuna)2
Thunnus thynnus (horse mackerel)2
Xiphias gladius (Swordfish)8
Ziphius cavirostris (Cuvier's Beaked Whale)8


Carcharodon carcharias (Maneater shark)[5]
Homo sapiens (man)[5]
Psilocybe inquilina[5]


Parasite of 
Trichinella spiralis (pork worm)[5]


Parasitized by 
Anisakis catodontis <Unverified Name>[11]
Anisakis dussumierii <Unverified Name>[11]
Anisakis ivanizkii <Unverified Name>[11]
Anisakis pacificus <Unverified Name>[11]
Anisakis pegreffii <Unverified Name>[11]
Anisakis physeteris <Unverified Name>[11]
Anisakis simplex[11]
Anisakis skrjabini <Unverified Name>[11]
Bolbosoma brevicolle[11]
Bolbosoma capitatum[11]
Bolbosoma tuberculata[11]
Bolbosoma turbinella[11]
Corynosoma bullosum[11]
Corynosoma curilensis[11]
Corynosoma strumosum[11]
Crassicauda anthonyi <Unverified Name>[11]
Crassicauda boopis <Unverified Name>[11]
Crassicauda tortilis <Unverified Name>[11]
Hexagonoporous physeteris <Unverified Name>[11]
Monorygma delphini[11]
Monorygma grimaldii[11]
Multiductus physeteris[11]
Phyllobothrium delphini[11]
Placentonema gigantissima <Unverified Name>[11]
Polygonoporus giganticus <Unverified Name>[11]
Priapocephalus grandis[11]
Stenurus ovatus <Unverified Name>[11]
Tetrabothrius affinis[11]
Tetrabothrius curilense <Unverified Name>[11]
Tetrabothrius curilensis[11]
Tetrabothrius wilsoni[11]
Tetragonoporus calyptocephalus <Unverified Name>[11]
Tetragonoporus physeteris <Unverified Name>[11]
Zalophotrema curilensis <Unverified Name>[11]
Zalophotrema kurilense <Unverified Name>[11]


Antarctica/Southern Ocean; East Pacific; Eastern Atlantic Ocean; Indo-West Pacific; Western Atlantic Ocean;



Attributes / relations provided by
1Felisa A. Smith, S. Kathleen Lyons, S. K. Morgan Ernest, Kate E. Jones, Dawn M. Kaufman, Tamar Dayan, Pablo A. Marquet, James H. Brown, and John P. Haskell. 2003. Body mass of late Quaternary mammals. Ecology 84:3403
2de Magalhaes, J. P., and Costa, J. (2009) A database of vertebrate longevity records and their relation to other life-history traits. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22(8):1770-1774
3Hamish Wilman, Jonathan Belmaker, Jennifer Simpson, Carolina de la Rosa, Marcelo M. Rivadeneira, and Walter Jetz. 2014. EltonTraits 1.0: Species-level foraging attributes of the world's birds and mammals. Ecology 95:2027
4Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 01, 2010 at
5Jorrit H. Poelen, James D. Simons and Chris J. Mungall. (2014). Global Biotic Interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics.
6CephBase - Cephalopod (Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish and Nautilus) Database
7Towards the trophic structure of the Bouvet Island marine ecosystem, U. Jacob, T. Brey, I. Fetzer, S. Kaehler, K. Mintenbeck, K. Dunton, K. Beyer, U. Struck , E.A. Pakhomov and W.E. Arntz, Polar Biology, 29 (2). pp. 106-113 (2006)
8Food Web Relationships of Northern Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca : a Synthesis of the Available Knowledge, Charles A. Simenstad, Bruce S. Miller, Carl F. Nyblade, Kathleen Thornburgh, and Lewis J. Bledsoe, EPA-600 7-29-259 September 1979
9Trophic Role of the Pacific Whiting, Merluccius productus, P. A. LIVINGSTON and K. M. BAILEY, Marine Fisheries Review 47(2), 1985, p. 16-22
10Szoboszlai AI, Thayer JA, Wood SA, Sydeman WJ, Koehn LE (2015) Forage species in predator diets: synthesis of data from the California Current. Ecological Informatics 29(1): 45-56. Szoboszlai AI, Thayer JA, Wood SA, Sydeman WJ, Koehn LE (2015) Data from: Forage species in predator diets: synthesis of data from the California Current. Dryad Digital Repository.
11Gibson, D. I., Bray, R. A., & Harris, E. A. (Compilers) (2005). Host-Parasite Database of the Natural History Museum, London
Protected Areas provided by Biological Inventories of the World's Protected Areas in cooperation between the Information Center for the Environment at the University of California, Davis and numerous collaborators.
GBIF Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Natura 2000, UK data: © Crown copyright and database right [2010] All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100017955
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Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License
Weather provided by NOAA METAR Data Access