The sperm whale is one of the most well known cetaceans in the world due to their infamous appearance in Moby Dick. Ironically enough, these whales possess a good deal of mysterious traits that biologists are still attempting to understand. For example, the sperm whale was aptly named after a white liquid found in their melon (head), which was widely assumed to be a part of the whale’s reproductive system. This waxy substance was used in cosmetics, candles, ointments and more during the whaling era, which made sperm whales a profitable target. Now that their numbers are slowly climbing again, scientists have discovered that spermaceti is not linked to the whale’s reproductive system in any way. While the true purpose of spermaceti is still unknown, common theories include the use of this substance for buoyancy or echolocation. Like all marine mammals, the more time we spend learning about sperm whales the more we discover. Through continuing to ban whale hunting around the world, funding research, and keeping our oceans clean, we can protect sperm whales and uncover the amazing secrets of these deep, diving whales.
By Claire J.