Scientific Name: Physeter macrocephalus Size: up to 60’ (males are much larger than females) Weight: 45 tons Status: Vulnerable
The Sperm Whale is the largest toothed whale species. They are extremely rare visitors to our waters, but as we always say you never know what you’re going to see. Each trip truly is a new adventure. In 2010 I was fortunate enough to see not one, but two individual Sperm Whales on Jeffrey’s Ledge (a feeding ground off the coast of New Hampshire) on back to back days.
Appearance wise, these whales are unlike any other. Their skin is not smooth like the other species we see. Instead their skin is all wrinkly, kind of like your fingers when you’ve been in the water for long periods of time. Their heads are huge and can actually make up about 1/3 of their body length. Their lower jaw, which I didn’t get to see in person, is long and narrow in comparison to the overall size of their heads. Unlike other whale species, the blowhole is not located on the middle of its head. Instead, it’s positioned off to the left side. Because of this, their visible spout or blow is angled off to the left which makes it easier to identify the species at a distance.
Sperm Whales are known for being deep and long divers. In doing so they can hold their breath for up to an hour and a half or longer. This can make whale watching a challenge with this species. Thankfully the two individuals that I saw back in 2010 were not diving deep nor were they staying under for too long. On average, I believe they were diving for only about 10-20 minutes at a time so I was able to get some really amazing close looks at this unique species.
"We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment. The alternative? - a world without whales. It's too terrible to imagine." ~ Pierce Brosnan