Sperm Whale

Physeter macrocephalus

The sperm whale is the largest toothed whale; males may be up to 18 meters long and weigh about 50 tons. It is one of the best divers of all marine mammals and can stay under water for more than an hour. In search for its favourite prey, the giant squid, a sperm whale will dive up to 1200 meters. We usually find sperm whales in the middle of the Strait, where the water is deepest.

  • Presence in the Strait of Gibraltar: throughout the whole year (however least in midsummer)
  • Other names: great sperm whale, pot whale, spermacet whale, cachalot, cachelot
Sperm whale

Interesting Facts

Suborder: toothed whale
Family: Physeteridae (sperm whales)
Size: 11–18 m
Weight: 20–50 t
Diet: squid, other cephalopodes, fish, crustaceans; 3 % of their body weight/day
Status: vulnerable

Distinguishing Features

  • dark grey or brown body
  • the head makes up one third of the body length
  • the blowhole normally is on the left part of the head
  • the blow is projected obliquely forward to the left
  • dorsal ridge in rear third of body (instead of a dorsal fin)
  • very broad flukes with distinct notch
  • prefers deep waters