Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)


Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whale species and the most sexually dimorphic of all cetaceans: a female’s average length is 14m with an average weight of 13.5 tonnes, while a male’s average length is 16m with an average weight of 41 tonnes. Their extremely large head accounts for over one-third of their body length as well as being the only cetacean species that has a single blowhole asymmetrically situated on the left side of the crown of the head. Socially, adult non-breeding males live solitary lives, whereas females and juvenile males live together in groups. Additionally, sperm whales utilize four different types of vocalization clicks that serve a different purpose: a usual click (searching for prey), a creak click (homing in on prey), a coda click (social communication within a group), and a slow click (communication for males).


Very deep open-sea waters; hunting dives are regularly 600m deep and can last for 45 minutes, making it the second deepest diving mammal trailing only Cuvier’s beaked whale


Consists of many larger species that also inhabit deep waters, such as squid, sharks, skates and fish

Protection Status

Listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN in the Mediterranean, and “Vulnerable” on a global scale. Entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes, and disturbance by intense boat and ship traffic are the main threats to sperm whales.

Interesting Fact

Sperm whales get their common name from spermaceti, the waxy substance in their enormous head. Spermaceti was used to make oil lamps, lubricants and candles, making this animal a prime target of the whaling industry in the 1800s and 1900s. Additionally, when the sperm whale comes up to breathe, the angle of its spout is diagonal since its blowhole is located left-to-the-center of its head.

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