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Sperm whale

Sperm whale, family of toothed whales, with 2 species: the cachalot (Physeter catodon) and pigmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps). They are among the best known of all whales because of their enormous, squared heads. The front of the head contains a huge reservoir of spermaceti oil, perhaps used as a lens to focus the sounds produced by the whales in echolocation. Spermaceti solidifies in cool air to form a wax once used for candles and cosmetics. Sperm whales are also the source of ambergris, a secretion in the gut produced in response to irritation by the beaks of squids, an important prey. Ambergris is used as a fixative in perfumes. Sperm whales are found in all oceans, migrating from the poles into warmer waters during the breeding season. They are deep-water whales, capable of diving to 1,650 ft (503 m) or more. Female and young form large schools of up to several hundred animals. Males tend to travel alone or in small groups.

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