The Sperm Whale

June 10, 2018
Cetaceans, ecomarine
Thanks to Costa Balenae Whale and Nature watching for the amazing picture taken in the Ligurian Sea.
In the Mediterranean regularly live eight species of cetaceans .. let’s go to know them. I start from the Sperm whale my degree thesis subject; I studied it working on board the boats of the Tethys Research Institute with Sabina Airoldi
Regularly present along the western coast of Corsica and Sardinia and in the seas around Sicily. Significant is the area of ​​the Aeolian Archipelago, characterised by steep backdrops and high depths, where the Sperm whales also seem to reproduce. In the Adriatic, the Sperm whale is present along the coast of Dalmatia and in the southern part of the basin. A large number of specimens have recently been reported off Catania; this made it possible to hypothesise the presence of hundreds of specimens in the Mediterranean Rather than a few dozen as previously believed. (Source: Sciara & Birkun Notarbartolo, 2010)
Sperm Whales are the largest of the toothed whales, with males reaching lengths of over 18 m. They are incredible divers, reaching depths of over 2000 m, and they can dive for over an hour. They are extremely vocal animals, making powerful clicks for most of the time they are underwater. Over a third of their bodies is given over to sound production and they carry the world’s largest natural sound-producing organ in their massive heads. Sperm whales are also the most social of the great whales, and perhaps most intriguingly of all, they have the largest brains that have ever existed. The sperm whale’s most prominent feature is its head. At its apex, in the top left-hand corner, is the blowhole. Below the head is slung a long thin lower jaw.

The blowhole. Thanks to @Marco ballardini by @costabalenae
Sperm whales make their impressive dive continuously. Every day of its life. Most of a sperm whale’s daily life is spent in bouts of long, deep, feeding dives. They eat in deep-sea squid and fish in a depth of 500 – 1000 m even if they can reach 2000 m. In one typical dive the whale stay on the surface for about ten fifteen minutes, blowing strongly every 12 seconds or so through its single blowhole. Once it has replenished its oxygen supplies our whale take two more forceful breaths and, rounding its body up, brings it flukes gracefully

Sperm whale starting its deep dive. Pic by Davide Ascheri @costabalenae
above the water to initiate its vertical dive. Between 500 and 1000 m the whale is in its main hunting grounds. Forty minutes into a dive and the whales senses that it is time to return to the surface. The whale has been making long sequences of clicks almost continuously while underwater, but now these become erratic and cease. Finally its blowhole reaches the surface and its exales, sending up a puff of vapor and, almost an hour since it last did so, it fills his lungs. How sweet that first breath of salty air must be. (Source: Sperm whales. Jonathan Gordon 1998)

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