5 things to know about sperm whales

The carcass of a sperm whale was found floating near Jurong Island on Friday morning, July 10, 2015.
The carcass of a sperm whale was found floating near Jurong Island on Friday morning, July 10, 2015.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A 10m sperm whale was found dead off Jurong Island on Friday, possibly the first time the giant mammal has been seen in Singapore waters. Here are some sperm whale facts.

1. Bigger than a bus

The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales and can grow to 18m, weighing in at over 40 tonnes. It is part of the cetacean species, which includes all species of whales, dolphins and porpoises. They are found in all the world's oceans.

2. And brainy too

They have the largest brain out of any animal known to have lived on earth, and block-shaped heads which can measure up to a third of their length.


PHOTO: STARHUB
 

3. They are voracious eaters.

These endangered whales eat close to one tonne of fish and squid each day, plunging to depths of 1,000m in search of prey. To do so, they can hold their breath for up to 90 minutes.

 

4. What's in a name?

The name sperm whale comes from a mysterious substance in the whale's head called spermaceti, that was originally mistaken for sperm by early whalers. Scientists still do not understand what spermaceti does. One theory is that the fluid, which hardens to wax when cold, helps the whale alter its buoyancy so it can dive deep and rise again.

5. Moby Dick was a sperm whale

The famous white whale of Herman Melville's classic novel was named after a real albino sperm whale, 'Mocha Dick', first spotted by sailors in the 19th Century off southern Chile.