Discover Why are Sperm Whales Called Sperm Whales?

The name “sperm whale” comes from the substance found in an organ in the whale’s head that is full of spermaceti oil.

This oil has a white semi-liquid appearance, and early whalers in the early 19th century believed it was the whale’s stash of sperm. They were incorrect, but the name stuck.

Why Do Sperm Whales Have Spermaceti Oil?

The spermaceti organ is enormous and located in the top half of the whale’s head and continues back to almost half of the whale’s body covering 40%.

This organ holds 530 gallons of spermaceti oil! Think about a dunk tank at the fair, those typically hold 500 gallons of water, similar to the amount of oil present in the sperm whale!

What Did Whalers Use Spermaceti Oil For?

Whalers sold it for use as lighting in oil lamps and as a lubricant and later for use in making cosmetics, detergents and soap.