Wildlife Fact Sheets

Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale

Physeter macrocephalus

  • Life Span
    70 years
  • Habitat
    I prefer ice-free waters that are at least 3,300 feet deep.
  • Range
    Females and calves stay in tropical and subtropical waters and males migrate to higher altitudes.
  • Preferred Food
    Thousands of pounds of fish and squid per day


I am the largest of the toothed whales, and I take great pride in my size! We are so big that we are longer than the average transit bus, with males growing to be on average 60 feet long and females growing to 37 feet. My head is huge, making up one third of my body. Despite my big head, my eyes are quite small and unrecognizable to most.  

I’m unique in many ways, aside from my size. For example, I have one blowhole located at the left of my forehead that I use to project my blows forward and at an angle. Most of my other whale friends don’t do it quite like me! My blowhole acts as nostrils would and allows me to get air into my lungs to breathe.

We sperm whales got our name because we have an organ inside of our heads that is called the spermaceti organ. This organ contains a reserve of high quality oil that I use to aid in echolocation. This turned out to be a big problem once humans discovered this source—whalers like to hunt us down for our oil and blubber!

Did You Know?

We are very vocal and emit a series of “clangs” or “clicks” that are used for communication and echolocation. Echolocation happens when we emit sounds that travel through the water and help us figure out the location, size and shape of objects in our path.

Status and Conservation

We stick together. As many as 20 of us sperm whales travel together in what is known as a pod. However, pods are made up of females and their young; most males prefer to roam solo or “pod-hop.”

Fast Facts


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