Whales are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic placental marine mammals. They are an informal grouping within the infraorder Cetacea, usually excluding dolphins and porpoises. Whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to the order Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates and their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged about 40 million years ago. The two parvorders of whales, baleen whales (Mysticeti) and toothed whales (Odontoceti), are thought to have split apart around 34 million years ago. The whales comprise eight extant families: Balaenopteridae (the rorquals), Balaenidae (right whales), Cetotheriidae (the pygmy right whale), Eschrichtiidae (the grey whale), Monodontidae (belugas and narwhals), Physeteridae (the sperm whale), Kogiidae (the dwarf and pygmy sperm whale), and Ziphiidae (the beaked whales).
Picking up this series again, this time a short one - as there are only three extant species of sperm whales.
First off, the sperm whale itself, Physeter macrocephalus (genus name means blowhole, and species name fittingly means “big-headed”). They are also known as cachalot (in Swedish, their only name is “kaskelot”), thought to be derived from “big teeth” in old French.
It is the largest toothed animal alive today, and arguably the largest toothed predator to ever live, surpassing the largest marine reptiles, Basilosaurus, and even Megalodon.
With a mass of up to 57 tons, it is four times the size of the second largest toothed whale alive today. Males can reach just over twenty meters (67 feet), while unverified claims of bulls reaching around 25 meters, exist. Females are significantly smaller, topping out at about 12 meters.
They have the largest brain of any living animal, possibly the largest ever, at nearly 8 kg. As newborns, the whale is four meters long and weighs a ton, roughly the size of an adult beluga.
They are one of the deepest diving mammals, being able to dive to a depth of over 2 kilometers (over 7300 feet), and hold their breath for over an hour.
To fully understand the badassery of this whale, you have to know about their prey - giant and colossal squid. Sperm whales are often seen with white, linear scars along their face. One theory is that this is from battles between males, but they are centered around the mouth and don’t resemble rakes in other toothed whales. The other idea is that these are scars from battling their prey.
Giant squids reach 13 meters in length and 275 kg in weight, their suckers are lined with tiny, sharp teeth, which have left scars on the skin of sperm whales. They are cute however compared to the colossal squid, 14 meters (only slightly longer because of their relatively short tentacles) and up to 750 kg in weight. Their suckers are equipped with three-pointed and swivelling hooks.
That’s what the sperm whale eats for dinner.
Despite all this however, they are not at the top of the food chain. Killer whales will attack and eat their calves, that they nurture for sometimes over a decade.
The other two sperm whales are members of the genus Kogia - Kogia breviceps or Pygmy sperm whale, and Kogia simus or Dwarf sperm whale.
They are extremely rare, and like beaked whales and their larger cousin, they are deep divers and thus are almost never photographed alive.
The pygmy is the slightly larger of the two, at 3.5 meters and 400 kg, equivalent of a bottlenose dolphin. The dwarf meanwhile is one of the smallest cetaceans in the world, at only 2.7 meters and 250 kg at most, it is only 0.4% the size of the largest sperm whale.
The pictures above show two adult male sperm whales with divers, a sperm whale calf (let’s face it - those chubby cheeks are really cute), a pygmy calf, two pygmy adults, and a dwarf that had been rescued.
What constantly fascinates me about the dwarf and the pygmy are their tiny mouths. Picture this - your body is the rough shape of a sausage, no arms, no legs. On the underside of your head, you have a tiny little hole with sharp teeth. That is your only means of catching your prey, wriggly little squid, in the pitch black waters of the deep ocean.
A Pygmy Sperm Whale! A rare species which slightly resembles the Sperm Whale, hence it’s name. Notice that marking behind it’s eye? That’s called a false gill marking and is thought to be a form of shark mimicry.
Copic Drawing Pen, grey brush pen, grey pencil and white pencil with an Ecoline background.
is one of the three species in the sperm whale family (Dwarf sperm whale,Sperm whale) they are rarely sighted at sea and not much information is known about them. they are about 4ft in length at birth and can grow to 11 feet at maturity.
What animal is the scariest according to you? What's your biggest phobia?
Octopuses, squids, snails, worms, and similar creatures weird me out. I used to think sperm whales were scary as well, but then I found this picture of a pygmy sperm whale:
Such a precious baby!!
As far as “proper” phobias go, I have trypophobia (a fear of clusters of small holes). Apparently it’s a fairly common phobia to have. I’d like to be able to read more about it, since I think it’s interesting - and quite bizarre - to be so frightened and repulsed by just a picture of something that isn’t even dangerous in itself, but I am never ever googling that shit. I even feel a bit uneasy thinking about it. I need to look at some more baby animals now….