Giant of the deep

(Sperm and Humpback Whales)

visit the gallery

gps   Azores: 38°26’01.59” N – 28°14’20.06” W
Silver Banks: 20°45'34.99" N - 70°46'11.45" W
Niue: 19°03’18.09” S - 169°52’00.81” W


June 2008 (Sperm) January 2006 (Humpback)


- Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus or Physeter catodon)
- Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

travel notes

The Sperm Whale is the largest of all toothed whales and largest living toothed animal. The whale was named after the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in its head and originally mistaken for sperm or semen. Historically the sperm whale has also been known as the common cachalot; "cachalot" is derived from an archaic French word for "tooth".
A bull sperm whale can grow up to 20.5 metres (67 ft) long. It has a large head that can be up to one-third of the animal's length. It also has the largest brain of any animal in the world. It has a cosmopolitan distribution across the world's oceans. The species feeds on squid and fish, diving as deep as 3 kilometres (9,800 ft) in order to obtain its prey, making it the deepest diving mammal in the world. Its diet includes giant and colossal squid. It is considered the largest living predator and possibly the largest ever, not in terms of its taking animal matter (which is true of all cetaceans, including the larger baleen whales) but in that it actively preys on self-functioning animals.

The Humpback Whale spends between eight to nine months a year in the North Atlantic feeding on copepods, sand lance, krill and herring. As opportunistic feeders, humpbacks gorge down their prey when they can find it and go through periods of fasting when their prey isn’t available.
During the winter months an uncontrollable desire to migrate south overcomes the Humpback Whale. Why they migrate is unknown, but we do know they travel to numerous mating and calving areas. We may never know why these mammoth mammals migratesouth on a yearly basis, but one thing is for certain, females go into estrus during this time frame and the males’ testosterone is overflowing, creatingone of nature’s most exciting arenas of courtship.
The behavior patterns of the humpback whale in the northern latitudes typically defines a gentle giant, fattened from for aging and opportunistically gathering enough prey to sustain its winter migration period without lack of sustenance. During their winter, the females typically remain gentle and flirtatious, but the males become vocal, extremely surface active, aggressive, brutaland competitively enlivened.

Frank Wirth - link:;
email: (Sperm Whales)

Amos Nachoum - link:;
email: (Humpback Whales, Niue)