The Real "Moby Dick"

Made famous by Captain Ahab and the classic story of Moby Dick, Physeter macrocephalus, or commonly known as the sperm whale is the same great sea creature that Captain Ahab chased throughout the story of Moby Dick. The sperm whale was first named when whaling was prominent near Japan as well as off the coast of Europe. After the sperm whale was killed, a white fluid would seep out into the water and sailors mistakenly believed this fluid was the whale's semen. Today we know that this is not actually whale semen, but a fluid stored in the head of the massive mammal called spermaceti (Williford 2010).  Still today, scientists are not entirely sure what the purpose of spermaceti is. Some believe that it helps to control the whale’s buoyance while other scientists believe that it serves as a focusing mechanism for the whale’s echolocation (Huggenberger, André, Oelschläger 2013).              

We hope you enjoy learning about sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) as much as we did. Please, if you have any questions, feel free to visit our contact page and we would be glad to answer any that you might have. There are also many other interesting organisms that our fellow students have researched just like us. If you would like to look at any of these organisms follow the link to

Follow this link to the contact page, or continue on to learn about the Physeter macrocephalus and its classification.