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Physeter macrocephalus   Linnaeus, 1758

Sperm whale

Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2100
This map was computer-generated and has not yet been reviewed.
Physeter macrocephalus  AquaMaps  Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Physeter macrocephalus (Sperm whale)
Physeter macrocephalus
Picture by Aquino, Maria Theresa

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | CoL | ITIS | WoRMS

Mammalia | Cetartiodactyla | Physeteridae

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Pelagic; oceanodromous (Ref. 75906); depth range 0 - 3200 m (Ref. 1005), usually 500 - 500 m (Ref. 75906).  Tropical; 90°N - 90°S, 180°W - 180°E

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Introductions


Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?, range 830 - 920 cm Max length : 2,400 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 99323); 1200 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 57.0 t (Ref. 1394)

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Largest sperm whale (Ref. 1394). 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 size of female species based from Ref. 1394. Deep divers. Feeds on squids, octopuses (Ref. 1394), sharks, demersal rays, and bony fishes (Ref. 122680). Forms strong social bonds (Ref. 122680).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

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).

Main reference References | Coordinator | Collaborators

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

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 127697)

  Vulnerable (VU) (A1d); Date assessed: 30 June 2008

CITES status (Ref. 108899)

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Threat to humans

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial
FAO - Fisheries: landings, species profile | FishSource | Sea Around Us


More information

Mass conversion

Internet sources

BHL | BOLD Systems | CISTI | DiscoverLife | FAO(Fisheries: species profile; publication : search) | GenBank (genome, nucleotide) | GloBI | Gomexsi | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | PubMed | Tree of Life | Wikipedia (Go, Search) | Zoological Record

Estimates of some properties based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 0.3 - 3.8, mean 1.7 (based on 39945 cells).
Vulnerability (Ref. 71543): High vulnerability (64 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766): Unknown.