Home Drake Well Foundation About OilHistory.com The Author Contact
Whale Oil
Whale Oil Versus the Others
Whale Oil Uses
The Size of the Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale Head Anatomy
Sperm Whale Oil
Whale Oil Barrel
Historic Prices
Whalemen in the Oilfields
Whaling Control
Cia. Ballenera del Norte S.A.

Sperm Whale Head Anatomy

The head is enormous, occupying about one-third of the body length (Bonner, 1989).  It contains special organs that contribute the finest quality sperm oil.

The sperm whale is a toothed whale having 18-28 pairs of conical teeth on the lower jaw (Bonner, 1989).  Cousteau (1972) found 60 teeth in all.  A tooth may weigh six or seven pounds and be eight inches long (Costeau, 1972).  These are some of the teeth that eskimos and sailors use to create scrimshaw.

Robertson (1954) described the mouth as follows, "the maw of the sperm whale is a fearsome thing - designed by nature to crush the giant squids on which this whale feeds".

It has the largest brain in the animal kingdom, specimens of 17 to 20 pounds have been described.  The brain is found far down in the lower back portion of the head.

The case is the largest organ in the head of the sperm whale.  It is a huge container filled with a straw-colored oily wax called spermaceti or case oil.

Below the case in the head is a tissue-filled chamber that also contains high grade spermaceti oil.  The tissue and oil in this chamber are collectively called junk, but that name is unfortunate because of the high quality of oil that is rendered from the contents of the chamber.

The sperm whale has a single blowhole, to the left of center in the top front of the large head.

Diagram of the head of a sperm whale showing positions and general relationship of some organs.  The case and the junk chamber contain the highest quality oil called spermaceti.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
all rights reserved