Sperm Whales

Physeter macrocephalus

pod of Sperm whales resting on the surface in Tenerife

Sperm Whale in Tenerife

There is a population of approximately 240 resident Sperm whales in the Canary Islands. The Sperm whales around Tenerife live in pods of 6-9 adult females and juveniles. These Sperm whales are typically 3 to 5 kilometres off the coast, which means having a fast custom built whale watching boat and a cetacean sightings network gives us the best chance of seeing Sperm whales during our tours.

The islands volcanic origin created a steep underwater topography of deep ocean between Tenerife and La Gomera. Not far offshore the ocean reaches 4 kilometres deep and is home to the Sperm whales and their favourite prey, squid.

When we do see Sperm whales on our tours they are typically resting at the surface between deep dives. The diving sequence is usually several minutes on the surface with deep breathes before making 30 to 45 minute foraging dives.

information on the resident population of Sperm whales in the Canary Islands

Sperm Whale Info

The Sperm whale is the largest toothed predator on the planet and one of the deepest diving whales recorded at over 2km deep. Their main prey item is squid found in the deep ocean. Sperm whales have a very sophisticated echolocation organ that allows them to search for squid in the complete darkness of the deep ocean abyss. These echolocations may be heard on our tours using our marine hydrophone and can assist us in finding the Sperm whales to observe.

Sperm whales are grey in colour with wrinkled looking skin and lack a true dorsal fin. They have a distinctly large block shaped forehead that can be 1/3 of the body length. Male Sperm whales grow up to 20 metres in length and weigh up to 67,000 kg while females typically reach 11 meters and 14,000 kg.

Sperm whales can live longer than 60 years, the females and juveniles remaining in resident pods while adult males are solitary and migrate to the poles to feed.

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