……objective science for conservation…….

The Pacific WildLife Foundation is a non-profit coastal and marine research and education society  that inspires an appreciation for objective scientific research and conservation of the ocean. We conduct original research, develop novel education programs, and inspire an appreciation for conservation of the ocean. 

 
 
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Sperm Whale Physeter macrocephalus

The sperm whale is a large whale adapted to diving into deep water. It has high levels of myoglobin in its muscle that improves the oxygen capacity required for the deep dives. They also carry oil in their spermaceti, a wax filled organ in the front of the head. It was the spermaceti that 19th century whalers sought for commercial production of cosmetics, soap, candles and machine oil. Ambergris forms in the lower intestine from indigestible beaks of squids eaten by sperm whales and it is used as a fixative by the perfume industry.  Dives of 2.5 kilometers have been recorded (Whitehead 2003). There are three species in the sperm whale in the family Physeteridae, the sperm whale, the dwarf sperm whale and the pygmy sperm whale. The sperm whale is found throughout the world’s oceans as far as the polar ice packs (Wilson and Ruff 1999). In the Pacific, it occurs into the Bering Sea and the Gulf of California. This species is long lived with the oldest animals reaching 70 years of age and possibly a century. The sperm whale derives its name from the spermaceti oil that early whalers mistook to be semen (Whitehead 2003).

 

 

References

 

Pitman R. L. and S. J. Chivers 1999. Terror in back and white. Natural History 107:26-29.

 

Whitehead, H. 2003. Sperm whales: social evolution in the ocean. Chicago University Press, Chicago, Illinois.

 

Wilson, D. and S. Ruff. 1999. Smithsonian book of North American mammals. UBC Press, Vancouver.

avior, and physiology. University of California Press, Berkeley..

 

 

 

 
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