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Sperm whale skull

Date: 19th century
Display dimensions: 1025 x 1360 x 2330 mm
Medium: Whalebone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Skull
Object No: 00006501

User Terms

    This sperm whale skull most likely from the early C19 and from the Victor Harbor area in South Australia. Whaling had been established in this area early on in the settlements history and had provided much needed economic input in those early years. The oil itself from a Sperm Whale is actually more like a liquid wax that was found in the whales head in areas known as spermaceti organ and the junk. It is these large liquid filled cavities, used that give the Sperm Whale its distinctive shaped head.
    SignificanceWhaling was an important industry in the early years of settlement and certainly a primary and dominant industry in South Australia for export. The Sperm Whale was primarily hunted off shore and was a very lucrative catch due to large quantity of oil found in its head.
    HistoryWhale oil was still a primary fuel in the early C19 and was very much in high demand as an export. The American whaling industry had long been operating to supply the demand for whale products including oil, bone and baleen. When it was noted by early settlers and explorers at the proliferation of whales in coastal areas of Australia, particularly in the south, an industry grew up that quickly dominated the fledging economy. On shore whaling focused on the Southern Right Whale whilst off shore whaling, with processing facilities on board the ships, could go deeper out to sea in search of the Sperm Whale.
    Oil from the Sperm Whale was considred superior to that of ordinary whale oil and was thus more expensive. Its higher quality meant that it burned brighter and proved an excellent lubricant for the commerical machinery that was rapidly being developed to increase industry.
    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Tilbrook collection

    Assigned title: Sperm whale skull

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