PORT PHILLIP BAY


Sperm Whale 

Physeter macrocephalus

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

See below for information.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Cetacea
Family:
Physeteridae
Genus:
Physeter
Species:
macrocephalus

General Description

Head square, about one third the length of the body, with a thin teethed lower jaw. Dorsal fin is a wide triangular lump. Tail dark grey, triangular with a straight rear edge. Water spray from blowhole angles forward out of the forehead, with 5 or 6 blows per minute, about 5 m high. Up to 18 m long.

Biology

Sperm Whales can hold their breath for over an hour and dive to depths of 3000 m. They eat squid, fish and shoaling crustaceans. They are the largest of the toothed whales.

Habitat

Deep waters around the continental shelf, to depths of 3000 m.

Open water

Distribution guide

Worldwide. Most Australian waters. Potentially near Port Phillip, recorded from Victoria.

Species Group

Mammals Whales and dolphins

Depth

Shore (0-1 m)
Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

Surface Midwater

Max Size

18 m

Diet

Carnivore

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Recorded in Australia

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Vulnerable
  • CITES : Trade restrictions (Appendix I)

Author

article author Fitzgerald, E.

Dr. Erich Fitzgerald is a Senior Curator of palaeontology at Museum Victoria.

Author

article author Jefferies, R.

Dr. Ryan Jefferies is a volunteer online editor at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Fitzgerald, E. & Jefferies, R., 2011, Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 25 Apr 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/4202

Text: creative commons cc by licence