Apr 22, 2008
The Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the largest of all toothed whales and is the largest toothed animal alive, measuring up to 18 metres (60 ft) long. The whale was named after the milky-white substance spermaceti found in its head and originally mistaken for sperm. The Sperm Whale's enormous head and distinctive shape, as well as its central role in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, have led many to describe it as the archetypal whale. Partly due to Melville, the Sperm Whale is commonly associated with the Leviathan of the Bible.
Historically the Sperm Whale has also been known as the Common Cachalot. The word cachalot is originally Portuguese (cachalote), probably coming from cachola, a colloquial term for head. Sperm Whales were hunted until recently in the Portuguese atlantic archipelago of Azores. The Sperm Whale is also the state animal of Connecticut, USA.