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Sperm Whale

marine life of Namibia

Introduction: The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) has the largest brain of any animal. The name is derived from the milky-white waxy substance resembling semen, spermaceti, found in the animal's head. It is one of the living species in the sperm whale super-family, along with the pygmy sperm whale and dwarf sperm whale. Adult males are capable of diving for 2hr and can reach depths in excess of 2,000m. All toothed whales, including this one, are capable of echolocation.

Hundred of whaling ships voyaged the planet's oceans in search of the sperm whale, best remembered in Herman Melville's legendary Moby Dick, based on his own experiences of hunting the sperm whale. Thousands of them were hunted in southern African waters until the 1970's and today estimates that there are some 32,000 of them left in this area. They were hunted to obtain spermaceti and other products, such as sperm oil and ambergris (a fixative in perfumery). Spermaceti found many important uses such as candles, soap, cosmetics and machine oil.

Distribution: Coastal regions of Namibia.

Diet: Deep-sea squid, fish, skate and sharks.

Colouring: A uniform dark grey blue over the entire body with lighter, sometimes white lips.

Breeding: Calves are born about 4m long and born around March time after a gestation period of 15 months.

Size: An adult bull can grow up to 20m in length and the head can take up to one-third of the total length.

Marine Life | Namibia

  • Namibia Marine Life: Sperm-whale
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Accommodation in Namibia