Eating on the run, a female sperm whale carries the remains of a giant squid off the Bonin Islands, about 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Tokyo, on October 15, 2009.
The whale almost certainly carried the giant morsel up from the dark depths of the nearby Osagawara Trench, a favorite hunting ground of sperm whales. The whales routinely dive for an hour or more to depths of up to 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) in pursuit of giant squid, which are thought to rarely venture higher than 1,000 feet (300 meters) below sea level.
Battles between giant squid and sperm whales often leave the whales scarred with sucker marks. Until recently, such wounds–along with analysis of sperm whale stomach contents–were the only proof of the whales’ appetite for giant squid.
… A female sperm whale, carrying a piece of giant squid in her mouth, leads a gargantuan dinner party in the northwestern Pacific on October 15, 2009. Sperm whales are voracious hunters of squid—the species as a whole consumes an estimated 110 million tons a year.
Aiding the sperm whale in its hunts is the world’s largest brain, which is surrounded by patches of spermaceti. Once used in candles and ointments, the white, waxy substance was long ago mistaken for the whale’s sperm, leading to the species’ curious name.