Man and SPERM WHALE
Frommers 2010 Favorite Travel Moments Photo Contest Winner
Shot in Rousseau, Dominica
©Peter Allinson M.D.
Writes Allinson: “Dominica is a magical island in the Caribbean that is full of wonders on the island and below the offshore waters. On this trip my friends and I wanted to swim and photograph some of the local population of Sperm whales that live offshore. We obtained a permit from the fisheries department and chartered a boat captained by Andrew Armour, known as the ‘whale whisperer’ for his special relationship with the whales. We located the whales and were able to swim, photograph and play with them on multiple days during that week. This is a photo of my friend Jeff thanking one of the whales for posing with us. Interacting with and making eye contact with these huge gentle intelligent creatures was the most memorable moment of my life. May the whale population of the world flourish.”
Sperm Whale Quick Facts:
- The sperm whale has the largest brain of any animal.
- The name comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal’s head.
- A bull can grow to 20.5 metres (67 ft) long.
- It is the largest living toothed animal.
- The head can represent up to one-third of the animal’s length.
- It has a cosmopolitan distribution across the oceans.
- Can dive as deep as 3 kilometres (9,800 ft), which makes it the deepest diving mammal. Its diet includes giant squid and colossal squid.
- The sperm whale’s clicking vocalization is the loudest sound produced by any animal, but its functions are uncertain.
- Females give birth every three to six years, and care for the calves for more than a decade.
- The sperm whale has few natural predators, since few are strong enough to successfully attack a healthy adult; orcas attack pods and kill calves.
- The sperm whale can live for more than 70 years.
Historically, the sperm whale was also known as the common cachalot; “cachalot” is derived from an archaic French word for “tooth”. Over most of the period from the early 18th century until the late 20th century, the sperm whale was hunted to obtain spermaceti and other products, such as sperm oil and ambergris. Spermaceti found many important uses, such as candles, soap, cosmetics and machine oil. Due to its size, the sperm whale could sometimes defend itself effectively against whalers. In the most famous example, a sperm whale attacked and sank the American whaleship Essex in 1820. As a result of whaling, the sperm whale is currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.
Whale Watching - who’s watchin’ who
Blue Whale and Calf
Orca attacking a Grey Whale Calf