Sperm Whale
Physeter macrocephalus (Linnaeus, 1821)

Morphology and dimensions: It is largest existing “odontocete”, characterised by an enormous head of squared shape; it does not have a big dorsal fin and the chest fins straps are relatively small. Males are larger than females: 18 m. of maximum length and 60 tons of weight for males first, 12 m and 20 tons for females. The babies measure approximately 4 m and can reach 1 ton of weight.

Coloration: Grey - tawny uniform; around the jaw region the skin appears of white colour. The surface of the body is wrinkled.

Swim and breathing rhythm: On surface it swims slowly if not disturbed, but it is capable to increase the speed up to approximately 15 nodes. It the champion of apnea of the animal reign: It can remain under water for two hours and reach a depth of beyond 2000 m. When it is fed, it alternates periods of immersion to permanence in surface of variable duration between the 10 and 30 minutes, depending on apnea carried out; in this phase it performs numerous respiratory actions. Before immersion it vertically raises the tail out of the water.

Feeding: It eats mostly “mesopelagici” squids. The set of teeth is usually limited to the inferior jaw, this is rather thin compared with the body dimensions.

Social behaviour: In the Mediterranean Sea the Capodoglio is watched solitary or in small groups, which can keep in acoustic contact up to remarkable distance. The adult males and females form separate groups that join in the reproduction period.

Vital cycle: Long-lived species, can reach 70 years of age. The sexual maturity is reached by the females between the 7 and the 13 years, by the males between the 18 and the 21 years. The reproduction season lasts from half winter to half summer. The gestation can exceed 14 months.

Identification in sea: The breath, low and directed ahead oblique, are a unmistakable symbol, like the tail which is raised in the action of the immersion. Sometimes, it performs jumps out of the water. It is a species whit a low frequency of sight also in the Liguria Sea, probably because of the particular cycle of swim.