Physeter catadon   Linnaeus,  1758 (Whale)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: New born: 3.5-4.5 m; Adult female: 18 m; Adult male: 18 m

Weight: Adult weighs 57 ton.

Color: Black or brownish grey with areas of white around the mouth and belly.

A distinctive cetacean with disproportionately large head that comprises of 1/3rd of the total length and a still greater proportion of the body mass. The Sperm Whale is the largest toothed cetacean, its tadpole like profile and squarish head is unlikely to be confused with the other species. The lower jaw is weak and disproportionately smaller with 18-25 pairs of functional teeth that fit into sockets of upper jaw. The upper jaw is edentulous. There is a single ā€˜Sā€™ shaped blow hole, set anterior on the head with a slight asymmetric placement towards the left. The flippers are wide and flattened. Also the flukes are broad and triangular with a straight trailing edge and a deep notch, followed by bumpy crenulations on the dorsal ridge of the caudal peduncle. The hump is low set and rounded. There are noticeable wrinkles on the body following the head. Due to asymmetrical position of the blowhole, the blow is angled and diagnostic of the species.

Sexual dimorphism is evident in so as the size differences are concerned. Also most of the females have calluses on the dorsal hump. Bulls are solitary but otherwise congregation of up to 50 individuals are common, recent study shows that they are polygynous. The sexually mature non breeding males form bachelor pods. Calving takes place in summer and autumn.

Their deep dives may last for 2 hours. Fluking up precedes the long dive. The sperm whales are known for elaborate acoustic communication.

Synonym (s)

Common Name (s)
• Sperm Whale (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic

Habitat:  Open Sea
Prey:  Fish, cephalopods, squids and octopus.


• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Krusadai Island INDIA
• Karnataka, Mangalore INDIA
• Karnataka, Karwar INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -

Page last updated on:2010-07-26

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