Physeter macrocephalus has fasinating organs. For starters sperm whales have the longest intestinal system in the world, which can be more than 300m in length in some larger specimens.
The brain of P. macrocephalus is also the largest of any known species, alive or extinct. It weighs in at an average value of 7.8kg, which is more than 5 times heavier than a human brain!
A preserved brain of a sperm whale, on display in Miraikan (Japan).
It is well known that cetaceans use echolocation to track prey and map the underwater world; this is especially important for sperm whales as they predate at great depth where it is far too dark to rely on visual targeting of prey.
It is thought that the ‘clicks’ used for echolocation can also be used by Sperm Whales to stun and disorientate prey, a suggestion which is made realistic by the volume of these clicks – up to 230 decibels! Which is the loudest sound made in the animal kingdom!
This is due to the Sperm Whale’s bulbous head. Inside the head there is a number of sacs of spermaceti oil which is used to focus the sound into a more directed and concentrated blast.
The Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the largest odontocete whale growing to 20.5m in length and 41 tons; it is also the largest toothed predator in the world. Relatively little is known about the behaviour of P. macrocephalus due to the fact that it dives to extreme depths in search of food; up to 2,250m in depth. However it is known that they predate giant squid because of the squid beaks found in the stomachs of Sperm Whales.
Picture shows the beak of a Giant Squid Architeuthis spp.
The first post!
Where better to start than with the plan?
This blog is going to be about the Sperm Whale Physeter macrocephalus and its adaptations to cope with the extreme nature of its habitat, among which is the high pressure experienced during its deep dives.