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.
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]  1.102 tons (1,000.00 kg)
Diet [3]  Carnivore (Invertebrates)
Diet - Invertibrates [3]  100 %
Forages - Marine [3]  100 %
Female Maturity [2]  8 years
Male Maturity [2]  10 years
Gestation [2]  1 year 4 months
Litter Size [2]  1
Litters / Year [2]  0.2
Maximum Longevity [2]  77 years
Migration [4]  Interoceanic
Snout to Vent Length [5]  36 feet (1099 cm)
Weaning [2]  1 year 6 months

Protected Areas

Prey / Diet

Prey / Diet Overlap

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Carcharodon carcharias (Maneater shark)[6]
Deconica inquilina[6]
Homo sapiens (man)[6]


Parasite of 
Trichinella spiralis (pork worm)[6]



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

External References



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
5Nathan P. Myhrvold, Elita Baldridge, Benjamin Chan, Dhileep Sivam, Daniel L. Freeman, and S. K. Morgan Ernest. 2015. An amniote life-history database to perform comparative analyses with birds, mammals, and reptiles. Ecology 96:3109
6Jorrit 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.
7CephBase - Cephalopod (Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish and Nautilus) Database
8Towards 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)
9Food 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
10Trophic Role of the Pacific Whiting, Merluccius productus, P. A. LIVINGSTON and K. M. BAILEY, Marine Fisheries Review 47(2), 1985, p. 16-22
11Szoboszlai 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.
12Gibson, 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
Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License