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loftus

The Business end of a Sperm Whale

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For those tired of seeing pictures of Scar, go no further, and my apologies.

One of the things that struck me was the way the shape of the head changes depending on one's viewpoint, and how it is difficult to visualize the bulbous shape one sees when viewing from the front or above, as compared to the angular sharp edge appearance when looking at the whale from the side or below. One has to wonder whether this has any type of evolutionary functional advantage, some sort of stealth technology, or is it just an accident resulting from the large cranium housing the melon?

Who would think these two views are the same animal? A few more angles posted on the link below

 

http://homepage.mac.com/jeffinorlando/The%...nd%20of%20Scar/

 

 

Dominica2009-11-0729871.jpg

 

Dominica2009-11-0529576%20-%20Version%202%20-%20Version%202.jpg

Edited by loftus

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I think, the sperm whale's head has a large muscular bag filled with oil that acts as a sound lens for their sonar. They can change the shape of the sound lens to send out different shaped sonar patterns (narrow beam to wide beam) depending on what they are doing.

 

Take Care,

ChrisS

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Hah thanks for that, he/she does indeed look very strange from that angle. If I'd seen these without any of the side shots or prior knowledge, I'm pretty sure I would have had a "what the hell is that?!?" moment.

 

edit: Fantastic images btw. Swimming with those giants must be an amazing experience.

Edited by Hani Amir

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I think, the sperm whale's head has a large muscular bag filled with oil that acts as a sound lens for their sonar. They can change the shape of the sound lens to send out different shaped sonar patterns (narrow beam to wide beam) depending on what they are doing.

 

Take Care,

ChrisS

 

Yes, it's called the melon.

Edited by loftus

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This is what I remember from an anatomical text book I read on whales a few years ago, correct me if I'm wrong.

The Sperm Whale being a toothed whale has one blow hole, this is located not centrally on the head but to one side, this asymmetry is due to the internal anatomy of the spermaceti organ, this is how the whale controls it's bouyancy, cooling it makes it negative, warming the opposite. This organ is riddled with tubes originating from the larynx and is effectively a closed nostril network. Add to that a network of blood vessels all based on one nostril and you maybe can see why the head has the irregular shape when viewed from the front.

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Forgot to say that individuals may of course have a greater irregularity than others

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This is what I remember from an anatomical text book I read on whales a few years ago, correct me if I'm wrong.

The Sperm Whale being a toothed whale has one blow hole, this is located not centrally on the head but to one side, this asymmetry is due to the internal anatomy of the spermaceti organ, this is how the whale controls it's bouyancy, cooling it makes it negative, warming the opposite. This organ is riddled with tubes originating from the larynx and is effectively a closed nostril network. Add to that a network of blood vessels all based on one nostril and you maybe can see why the head has the irregular shape when viewed from the front.

Thanks for that. I think it amplifies / focuses the sonar as well from what are called the phonic lips, though I can't get clarity on this. They not only echolocate with sonar but apparently stun their prey as well. I have heard first hand from someone who has been 'stunned' as well as an anecdotal report of a death of a diver from a sonar blast.

It just occurred to me as well that one of the visual cues that makes the head appear narrow from the side, is the narrow lower jaw.

Edited by loftus

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