Fascinating Sperm Whale Facts: 11-15 | Hunting and Threats
11. It is easy to hunt big prey but when the Sperm Whales hunt small fish, a group of Sperm Whales (called a Pod) will work together. They will surround feeder fish from all sides.
12. This move will allow the Sperm Whales to force the feeder fish into making what is known as bait balls. Bait balls are basically ball-like clumps formed by small fish as a defensive mechanism. This provides a greater chance of survival for the fish towards the center.
13. While Sperm Whales are really big and they are good hunters, they are also being preyed upon. This means, they do have threats. Of all natural threats, the Killer Whale (also known as the Orca Whale) pose the greatest threat.
14. Even False Killer Whales and Pilot Whales are known for hunting Sperm Whales.
15. Orcas are known for hunting Sperm Whale calves and even females that are relatively smaller than the male Sperm Whales.
Fascinating Sperm Whale Facts: 16-20 | Threats
16. When Nursery groups (all female Pods) sense threat, they adopt a defensive stance known as the ‘marguerite formation’. It is a type of formation where the vulnerable pod members (such as calves) are place in the middle and rest of the pod members circle the vulnerable ones with tail facing outwards.
17. Apart from their natural habitat threats, Sperm Whales are also threatened by humans. The human threat reached its highest during the 1700s after large-scale whaling started in 1712. Nearly 236,000 Sperm Whales are killed during 1700s alone!
18. The reasons why the Sperm Whales were hunted were many. Apart from oil, blubber and food, the primary reasons for hunting Sperm Whales were Spermaceti and Ambergris.
19. Spermaceti allowed creation of smokeless candles and hence, its demand was high. Also, lighthouses, streetlights and lanterns were fueled by Spermaceti. However by 1800s, the Spermaceti became scarce because of overhunting and its price doubled, causing chaos. Fortunately in 1846, kerosene-based lamp fuel came in, eradicating Sperm Whale trading.
20. Ambergris was another substance that was on high demand in perfume industry. It was used as a fixative in perfume manufacturing. However, it was rare and hence, led to search of alternatives.