Sperm whale's name

From: Nancy Stevick (Nancy.Stevick@btinternet.com)
Date: Thu Feb 10 2000 - 15:58:03 EST

On 10 February 2000, Fire Witchy wrote:

>Why are sperm whales called sperm whales? thanks so very much!

Dear Fire Witchy,

Your e-name does make me wonder.... According to A Field Guide to Whales,
Porpoises and Seals from Cape Cod to Newfoundland, sperm whales got their
name because old whalers thought the waxy liquid inside these whales'
enormous heads was the whale's sperm. (These whalers obviously did not know
much about anatomy and physiology.) Anyway, they called the substance
spermaceti and the whales sperm whales. Now, scientists believe that the
spermaceti serves an important part in the animal's echolocation.

Nancy Stevick

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