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Home > Ocean > Life in the Deep > Sperm Whale

Biggest Ocean Carnivore: Sperm Whale
Physeter macrocephalus

The winner of the title of the Largest Ocean Carnivore goes to the Sperm whale - the largest of the toothed whale species in the world. Adult males can grow up to 60 feet long and weigh 40 tons (80,000 pounds!). Males are usually about twice as large as the females. They have a pretty long life span, about as long as people, living up to 70 years. Sperm whales have been found living in every ocean in the world.

sperm whale photoJust like you and me, the sperm whale is born without teeth. They drink milk from their mother's mammary glands, just like baby people do. They finally grow teeth in their massive jaws when reaching sexual maturity. Sperm whales have strong conical (cone-shaped) teeth on their lower jaw and only remnants of teeth in the upper jaw. The largest teeth are 11 inches long! That's about as long as an adult human's forearm. Can you imagine? One tooth from the mouth of this massive creature is as big as your arm. Do you think he could eat you? It's not likely you'll find yourself being eaten by a sperm whale, they don't eat people. Their favorite food is giant and colossal squid.

Listen to the song of the sperm whale

It takes a lot of food to keep a big sperm whale happy - about a ton of food a day. Scientists have measured them diving down as deep as 3,000 meters and holding their breath for two hours to go after the squid that they love to eat so much. They also feed on other creatures, such as octopus and fish. But sperm whales have been the stuff of legends because of their massive size and predatory nature and because of the telltale markings left on their bodies by the giant squid they stalk and hunt in the great ocean depths. Scientists have recovered huge beaks from the stomachs of sperm whales that came from colossal squid that were bigger than any specimen ever captured by humans, dead or alive. These discoveries beg the question, "Just how big can a colossal squid get?"

This great ocean carnivore has been known to eat another great ocean carnivore - the great white shark! So the sperm whale really is the baddest of them all!

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