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Buoyancy Control as a Function of the Spermaceti Organ in the Sperm Whale

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2009

Malcolm R. Clarke
The Laboratory, Marine Biological Association, Citadel Hill, Plymouth
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This paper will discuss the buoyancy of the sperm whale throughout its range and show that the whale probably has some control over its own buoyancy. Evidence will then be presented in support of the hypothesis that the whale can attain neutral buoyancy at depths greater than 200 m by control of the temperature of the spermaceti oil in its head. As a basis for this, papers describing the detailed structure and proportions of the whale (Clarke, 1978a) and some physical properties of spermaceti oil (Clarke, 1978b) have already been published.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 1978



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