Marine Mammal Science & Conservation

Sperm whale

Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

Group formation: Matrilineal groups (<12), male bachelor groups/solitary males

Size: males 15-18 m, females 11 m, calf 4 m

Weight: males 40-50 t, females 14 t, calf 1t

Spout: 2 m at 45° angle, second deepest diver 90 min 2200 m

Age: >80 yrs

Sexual maturity: males 18 yrs, females 9-13 yrs

Physical maturity: males 50 yrs

Gestation: 14-16 mths, 4-20 yrs in between

Weaning: 19-42 mths

Diet: mostly squid, octopuses, some fish

Distribution: Cosmopolitan, prefers ice free waters deeper than 1000m, continental shelf or canyons

Raja Ampat: breeding and feeding area for females and calves, matrilines, possibly stable all year round – males arrive for breeding, migration routes are unknown.

Population size: unknown, heavily exploited (67% reduced)

Conservation Status: Vulnerable A1d ver 3.1, Pop. trend: unknown

Threats: Vessel collisions, whaling (Japan, Indonesia), plastic pollution, man-made noise impacts (seismic surveys, military sonar), entanglement in fishing gear, over fishing


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