Subject: Abstract: Scarring on female / juvenile male sperm whales (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 18 Jun 1998 15:19:01 -0400 (EDT)

                      J. Michael Williamson
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 08:45:48 -0400
From: Sascha Hooker <>
Subject: Abstract: Scarring on female / juvenile male sperm whales

Hooker, S.K. 1998. Extensive scarring observed on female or juvenile
male sperm whales off the Galapagos Islands. Mammalia 62: 134-139


Scarring on sperm whales (_Physeter macrocephalus_), has been
previously noted on mature males, but not on female or juvenile male
sperm whales. In the Galap=E1gos during 1995, two female or juvenile
male sperm whales were observed with extensive scarring on the head
and anterior dorsal surface of their bodies. This note describes the
unusual degree and nature of scarring on one of these females /
juvenile males (based on photographs) and discusses the possible

Scarring was observed over a large portion of the head and anterior
dorsal surface, arranged in at least twenty "groups".  Each scar
group was composed of between 1 and 6 parallel scars (average 3.75),
although groups were not always straight and often showed s-shapes or
distinct changes of direction.  Assuming a head size of approximately
2.2 - 2.8 m, it was possible to approximate the dimensions of the
scarring and infer the dimensions required to cause this. A
comparison of the inter-dental or inter-hook measurements for
selected other odontocetes, sharks and cephalopods showed that scar
dimensions were best fit by either another sperm whale or a giant
squid, but that the apparent depth of the scars was more suggestive
of a sperm whale cause.

While previous accounts of intra-specific aggression in sperm whales
have been between adult males, the interscar spacing observed
corresponds instead to the interdental spacing of a female or
juvenile sperm whale. This encounter is therefore suggestive of
intra-specific aggression between smaller sperm whales than has
previously been recorded.

Reprints are available from the author:
Sascha Hooker, PhD Student
Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Phone: (902) 494-3723
Fax: (902) 494-3736