Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Structure and Proportions of the Spermaceti Organ in the Sperm Whale

Malcolm R. Clarkea1

a1 The Laboratory, Marine Biological Association, Citadel Hill, Plymouth

The head of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus L.), which is largely snout and the crest of the skull necessary to support it, may exceed a third of the total weight and a quarter of the length of the whale. This indicates the snout has an extremely important function but few theories regarding its function take into account the overall structure, whilst the detailed structure and proportions of the adult's snout have been almost totally neglected. Similarly, consideration of the thermal properties of the spermaceti oil, which is the most remarkable component and constitutes a large proportion of the head, have been neglected in studies of function.