Featured Image Credit: Westend61/Alamy
By Sarah Sharkey
Sperm whales are massive submarine like creatures that spend up to 90% of their lives in the deep waters of the ocean. They can shut off all of their organs minus the heart, brain, and power tail to swim to depths of up to 1 mile and hunt for giant squid, their favorite prey.
The species began to evolve around 25 million years ago and they have the largest brains on the planet. Sperm whales have a special oil in their heads that allows them to hear better at the great depths that they swim too. Unfortunately, their impressive size and valuable oils led to targeted harpoon hunting of the largest male whales.
Even though we don’t hunt these whales anymore, humans still have an effect on these animals. When stranded whales are examined, the amount of plastic in their system is appalling. The various chemical we put into the ocean affect their bodies and the sheer amount of disruptive noise that we put into the ocean affects their ability to hunt and communicate.
Even against all the pressure from humans, sperm whales are doing well. So well, that a new population of sperm whales was discovered in the Indian Ocean. Although these whales are doing well against the global standard of struggling whale populations, there are still concerns for the species’ long-term welfare. It can be hard to protect them, even from people who love whales. The tourism industry that has already boomed around this new population may cause harm to the population, just from well-wishing tourist hoping to swim with a whale.
Hopefully, these animals will continue to thrive in the face of human interference.
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