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Sperm whale spotted in the Salish Sea

Over Easter weekend, members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association captured photos and hydrophone audio of the first-ever sperm whale spotted in inland waters in Washington state. The whale was named Yukusam (from Kwak’wala, First Nations) when it first showed up in Johnstone Strait in British Columbia in February 2018.

The whale was photographed in Haro Straight just off Turn Point on Stuart Island in the San Juan Islands. Photo credit: Maya Legacy Whale Watching and Pacific Whale Watch Association 

Sperm whales, the largest toothed predator, are 49 to 59 ft long and weigh 35 to 45 tons according to National Geographic

Sperm whales are easily recognized by their massive heads and prominent rounded foreheads. They have the largest brain of any creature known to have lived on Earth. Their heads also hold large quantities of a substance called spermaceti. Whalers once believed that the oily fluid was sperm, but scientists still do not understand the function of spermaceti. One common theory is that the fluid—which hardens to wax when cold—helps the whale alter its buoyancy so it can dive deep and rise again. Sperm whales are known to dive as deep as 3,280 feet in search of squid to eat. These giant mammals must hold their breath for up to 90 minutes on such dives. These toothed whales eat thousands of pounds of fish and squid—about one ton per day.

Photo credit: Valerie Shore, Eagle Wing Tours and PWWA

Photo credit: Valerie Shore, Eagle Wing Tours and PWWA


Video credit Maya Legacy Whale Watching
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