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Physeter macrocephalus   Linnaeus, 1758

sperm whale
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Image of Physeter macrocephalus (sperm whale)
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Classification Common names | Synonyms | CoL | ITIS | WoRMS

Mammalia | Cetacea | Physeteridae

Main reference References | Biblio | Coordinator | Collaborators

Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood and M.A. Webber. 1993. (Ref. 1394)

Size / Weight / Age

Max length : 2,400 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 99323); 1200 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 57.0 t (Ref. 1394)


Pelagic; oceanodromous (Ref. 75906); depth range 0 - 3200 m (Ref. 1005), usually 500 - 500 m (Ref. 75906)

Climate / Range

Tropical; 90°N - 90°S, 180°W - 180°E

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Introductions


Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Largest spern whale. Deep divers. Feeds on fish, cephalopods such as squid and octopuses (Ref. 1394). Preyed upon by great white sharks (Ref. 28608). Length at first maturity ranges from 830 to 920 cm for females and 1100 to 1200 cm for males (Ref. 75906). Sperm whaling has a long history. The most intense periods were the Yankee whaling era of the 1800s and the factory ship whaling of the 20th century. Recent findings of studies on social behavior and breeding undermine assumptions in the models on which exploitation and management have long been based. Certain populations have been depleted, but the sperm whale remains the most abundant of all the great whales (Great whales generally include the sperm whale and all baleen whales, except the pygmy right whale) (Ref. 1394). Maximum measurements of female species based from Ref. 1394. Deep divers. Feeds on fish, cephalopods such as squid and octopuses (Ref. 1394). Mature females live in socially cohesive groups of 10-30 individuals which include immature males and females and within is a communal suckling and caring of the young. Also, males leave the group at the age of 6 (Ref. 97765).

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 114614)

  Vulnerable (VU) (A1d)

CITES status (Ref. 94142)

Threat to humans

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial
FAO(fisheries: production) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

More information

Mass conversion

Internet sources

BHL | BOLD Systems | Check for other websites | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | DiscoverLife | FAO(fisheries: species profile; publication : search) | GenBank (genome, nucleotide) | GOBASE | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | ispecies | National databases | PubMed | Scirus | Sea Around Us | FishBase | Tree of Life | uBio | uBio RSS | Wikipedia (Go, Search) | Zoological Record

Estimation of some characteristics with mathematical models

Vulnerability (Ref. 71543)
High vulnerability (64 of 100)
Price category (Ref. 80766)