Sperm whales are named for the spermaceti oil (wax) that they produce in the spermaceti organs located in their head. The scientific name is Physeter macrocephalus. Macro- cephalus comes from the Greek for “big head.”
Man hunted the sperm whale for spermaceti, a semi liquid waxy oil in the whale’s head, which was used to make candles and light streets and homes through the 19th century. Whalers also collected ambergris, a waxy substance used in perfumes, and tooth ivory, used for carving.