Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)


We used to see them occasionally when we first started operating out of Sandgerði but Faxaflói is too shallow but it is not impossible to see them when going from harbours on the other side of the Reykjanes.

Sperm Whales are champion “free-divers”. They are thought to be able to hold their breath for over two hours, although 45 minutes is the average dive time and getting to depths of up to 3000m.

The Sperm Whale is the largest of the toothed whales and is very easily identified at sea because they have an angled bushy blow that is distinctive from a long distance.

This specie has been drastically affected by commercial hunting, mainly in Japan, and that upset the male – to – female ratio and led to a serious decline in the Sperm Whale ‘s birth rate. Today they are not hunted commercially.

Length: 12-15 meters
Weight: 14-40 tons
Life expectancy: 60-70 years
Est.population around Iceland: About 11.000
Social behaviour: Schools of either adult females and young ( nursery schools) or males between 7 and 27 years of age ( bachelor schools). Older males tend to live on their own or in small schools
Diet: Primarly squid eaters, also eat octopi, demersal ray, sharks and various bony fish
Suborder: Odontoceti  - Toothed Whale
Family: Physeteridae
IUCN Listing: Data Deficient
Major Threats: Entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, marine debris, noise pollution
Icelandic Name: Búrhvalur