Here’s a quiz: The two teeth in the picture below are from two different 33.5’ sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) that stranded in North Carolina. Both teeth are a #10 (10th from the front) tooth from the lower jaw. Why do you think there’s such a size difference between the two teeth? Check back tomorrow for a hint.
Posts Tagged ‘cetacean’
This is a seriously last-minute note, but if you check the blog regularly and haven’t had a chance to hear Keith Rittmaster tell the story of the sperm whale hanging in the Maritime Museum, you should really set aside the time to check it out. Details below.
On or before January 30, 2004 a 33½ foot male sperm whale washed ashore dead on the west (ocean) beach of Power Squadron Spit near Cape Lookout. The whale was closely examined by NOAA scientists and NC State veterinarians and others to try and determine cause of death but none was found.
Portions of the whale will be saved for research and education.
- Adult sperm whales range in length from 50-40 feet, males being longer then females. The size of the stranded whale, 33½ feet, may indicate this whale was a young male just past the age of being weaned.
Sperm whales have long life spans, some living as long as 70 years.
- The blowhole on a sperm whale is located on the left side toward the very front of the head.
- Teeth occur only on the lower jaw of a sperm whale. Some teeth have been measured at eight inches in length.
- Sperm whales are deep divers of the ocean. A single dive might last from 30 minutes to an hour in length.
- Sperm whales inhabit both the northern and southern hemispheres. These whales migrate north and south with the seasons within their respective regions.
Squids of various sizes are the primary food of these large whales; the largest of all the known toothed whales.
- Parts of the sperm whale were once used by humans, making this whale one of the most frequently hunted whales during the peak of the whaling industry. Spermaceti, an oil located within the large head, was used for heating and lighting purposes. Some Scientists suggest that the spermaceti is used by these whales as part of their sound system. Ambergris, a waxy, gray substance formed in the intestines wherever a squid beak, the one hard indigestible part of the squid, occurs. Ambergris was used in the production of expensive perfume.
- As of 31 December 1994, sperm whales were listed as endangered and depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.