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Sperm Whales: Physeteridae

Sperm Whales And People

Sperm whales were hunted for their spermaceti, blubber, and meat for many years. Minimal hunting still occurs. In parts of New Zealand, sperm whales form the basis of whale watching ecotoursism, where tourists observe whales without disturbing them.


Ambergris is a substance made in the digestive system of sperm whales. Sperm whales eat squid, which have sharp beaks that they use for biting food. The whales cannot digest the beaks of the squid, and eventually they begin to irritate the whale's digestive system. In response, sperm whales produce a material to cover the beaks. This is known as ambergris. It is rare and valuable. Since ancient times, ambergris has been used in perfumes to make the scent remain longer. Today human-made additives are available that do the same thing.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsSperm Whales: Physeteridae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Sperm Whales And People, Sperm Whale (physeter Macrocephalus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS