Category of Organisms Marine Mammals
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum/Division Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetacea
Family Physeteridae
Genus Physeter
Species catodon
Binomial Name
Physeter catodon
Author Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name Sperm whale
Local Name  
Size Range
Adult males measuring up to 20.5 metres (67 ft) long and weighing up to 57,000 kilograms

The habitat of the sperm whale is the open sea. More specifically, sperm whales can be found in almost all marine waters deeper than 1,000 m that are not covered by ice, except in the Black Sea and possibly the Red Sea (Rice 1989; Whitehead 2003). In some areas, particularly in the western North Atlantic, sperm whales, especially males, can occur in shallower waters (e.g., Scott and Sadove 1997). Females and young are usually restricted to waters at latitudes lower than about 40-50º and to areas where sea surface temperatures are greater than about 15ºC (Rice 1989). Sperm whales are generally more numerous in areas of relatively high primary productivity (Jaquet et al. 1996), although there are some exceptions, such as the Sargasso Sea and the central North Pacific gyre (Barlow and Taylor 2005).
Endemic No
Found in Marine Park No
Found in Malaysia Yes
Sperm whales feed on several species, notably the Giant Squid, the Colossal Squid, octopuses, and diverse fish like demersal rays, but the main part of their diet consists of medium sized squid.
Sperm Whales can live 70 years or more. They are a prime example of a species that has been K-selected, a reproductive strategy associated with very stable environmental conditions that is characterized by a low birth rate, significant parental aid to offspring, slow maturation and high longevity.
The manner in which it is determined which males breed with which females has not been definitively determined. There is evidence that the males have dominance hierarchies and there is also evidence that female choice influences the mating system. A single calf is born after a gestation period of 14 to 16 months. Lactation proceeds for 19 to 42 months, but the calf may suckle for up to 13 years (although usually less). Calves can suckle from females other than their mothers. Females generally have interbirth intervals of three to six years.
Females reach sexual maturity at between 7 and 13 years old, but males do not become sexually mature until at least 18 years old. Upon reaching sexual maturity, males move to higher latitudes, where the water is colder and feeding is more productive. Females remain at lower latitudes upon reaching sexual maturity.
Status in IUCN Red List Vulnerable (VU)
Status in CITES Species Database I
Other Link(s)
Collection Record