What do sperm whales eat?

In this brief blog, we will address the query,”What do sperm whales eat?” We will look at their common foods and how much they consume. We will talk about the predators that compete with sperm whales for food. We will also discuss if sperm whales are dangerous to humans and how they hunt down their prey.

What do sperm whales eat?

Sperm whales eat large squid, octopus, cephalopods, skates, cuttlefish, sharks and other fish that are in the deep waters. We will look at more foods that sperm whales eat shortly.

Sperm whales are predominantly carnivores are apex predators which means they are at the top of the food chain and because of their large size it is not common for them to accidentally take initems or aquatic creatures when they eat their prey.

What are the common foods that sperm whales eat?

Sperm whales have been to consume the below foods;

  • Large squid 
  • Octopus 
  • Cephalopods 
  • Krill
  • Fishes (cod, sharks, ling, rockfishes rag fish, skate, dory-type fish and lumpsucker)
  • Lobsters
  • Shrimp 
  • Cuttlefish
  • Crabs

Of all the above food, squid are the main food that sperm whales consume as it takes a big portion of their diet. However, researchers have also found jelly-fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, and colonial tunicates in their stomachs.

How much food do sperm whales eat?

Sperm whales can eat anywhere between 3% to 3.5% of their body weight in a single day. They are usually constantly eating and can consume over 2000 lbs (900 kg) of food in a day.

Sperm whales like to feed on squid with the males eating 300 to 400 squids in a single day while the females eat much more, somewhere between 700 to 800 squids in a day. Squid are very important food for sperm whales and in a year it is estimated that they can consume about 110-320 million tons of squids.

What other predators compete with sperm whales for food?

Killer whales (Orcinus orca) or also known as orca which are one of the largest dolphins and very powerful predators are known to compete with sperm whales for food. They are also an apex predator and feed on fish and squid similar to sperm whales.

Killer whales compete with sperm whales for food and adult sperm whales have been found to sometimes attack killer whales so as to compete for such food.

Do sperm whales have any predators?

Being the largest toothed whales, sperm whales have very few natural predators. Calves and weakened sperm whale adults are sometimes preyed on by killer whales. Sharks have also been documented to kill sperm whales.

However, killer whales are known to be the biggest threat to sperm whales because they share a similar diet and are often in competition with each other. Killer whales however stay away from preying on adult killer whales owing to their big size.

Apart from the aquatic predators, sperm whales are also killed by humans.

Are sperm whales dangerous to humans?

Sperm whales have been found to be very friendly creatures to humans despite being very large animals that can easily rip off the flesh and kill humans in an instant. This is not to say that they cannot attack humans.

Sperm whales can attack humans but this is if they feel attacked or provoked and you cross their territories. Sperm whales are known to steer clear of eating mammals and only do so if they mistake mammals for food.

Sperm whales also tend to stay away from boats when they hear them. They have however been said to swim towards small boats on some occasions. 

How do sperm whales hunt down their prey?

The sperm whales are fast swimmers and can swim at speeds of about 23miles per hour and are known to spend upto one and half hours under the waters before coming to the surface of the waters to catch a breath.

When hunting for their prey they can dive to depths of more than 3,000 feet deep. They also tend to use their noses for echolocation which helps in sending a series of clicks that locates their prey and they hunt them down.

Due to their small eyes and poor eyesight the echolocation allows them to hunt down in deep waters and in conditions where there is no light. They are said to be the loudest animals on earth emitting noise to levels of 233 decibels.

Conclusion

In this brief blog, we have addressed the query,”What do sperm whales eat?” We have looked at their common foods and how much they consume. We have talked about the predators that compete with sperm whales for food. We have also discussed if sperm whales are dangerous to humans and how they hunt down their prey.

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