Wildlife Climatology The Expedition Peoples Of The North The Global Issues The "Making Of"

Wildlife

Climatology

The Expedition

Peoples Of The North

The Global Issues

The "Making Of"

Sperm Whales

Geoff Green by Geoff Green, logistics Co-ordinator and Arctic Advisor

One of the highlights of our expedition so far was our surprise sighting of a Sperm Whale yesterday! We were just entering the Hudson Strait and trying to find a passage through the ice, when a whale was spotted off the Portside. It was just slowly cruising along the surface and making big blows. At first we thought it might be a Bowhead Whale. But as we got a bit closer we noticed that this large whale had a dorsal fin and also a large hump near its blowhole. Its blowhole was also very near the front and left side of its head, which is a distinguishing feature for Sperm Whales. Then as suddenly as it had appeared, it arched its back slightly and lifted its flukes (that's its tail) high in the air and disappeared. A spontaneous cheer erupted on the SEDNA!

Sperm WhaleI am in total awe of these magnificent mammals, our planet's biggest inhabitants. They are so huge, gentle and intelligent. It is humbling to be so close to them. I always feel privileged to share space and time with a whale. Including yesterday's Sperm Whale, we have now sighted five different kinds of whales including Humpback, Pilot, Minke and Fin. In the weeks to come we hope to also see Bowhead, Narwhal and Beluga whales, and if we are really lucky, a Blue whale!

Sperm Whales are the largest of the toothed whales. They can dive deeper and for longer than any other whale. Their range is also amazing. From the Arctic to the Antarctic! A true global citizen. The Sperm Whale we sighted was almost certainly a male, since they travel much greater distances than the females and they tend to be the ones that venture into the high latitudes for feeding. He was about 60 feet long and may have weighed up to 120,000 pounds (57,000 kg)! The life span of these whales is believed to be at least 60 to 70 years.

Melville's classic Moby Dick made the Sperm Whale famous. In the whaling days, these whales were the prime targets due to the spermaceti, a liquid wax, found in their massive heads. Spermaceti was commercially valuable in the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite the intensive hunting in the past, today it is believed that with continued protection the populations will recover. Incredibly, there are several countries that are pressuring the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial whaling. Is commercial whaling really necessary in the 21st Century? I believe we should fight to prevent this from happening.

By submitting the photos and film we took of this Sperm Whale and it's flukes to some international whale research groups, we hope that we will be able to identify it and learn more about its life.

 

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