Unknown Cetacean of the North Atlantic
Scientific name: Physeter tursio, given by Carl
von Linné in 1758.
Variant name: High-finned cachalot.
Physical description: Like a sperm whale.
Length, 60 feet. Teeth are only in the lower jaw.
Large dorsal fin looks like a ship’s mast.
Distribution: North Atlantic Ocean, off the
Shetland Islands and Nova Scotia.
Significant sightings: Two stranded specimens
were reported in the seventeenth century.
On either August 27 or September 27, 1946,
a black whale with a high dorsal fin was seen to
enter Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia, Canada,
and was apparently trapped there for two days.
Its length was variously estimated between 10
and 100 feet.
The High-finned sperm whale is a supposed variant or relative of the known sperm whale that is said to live in the seas around the Shetland Islands in Europe. The major difference between this creature and other sperm whales is the presence of a tall dorsal fin on its back, which the known sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, lacks. Two such stranded whales were supposedly observed by Sir Robert Sibbald. He described their dorsal fins as being similar to a "mizzen mast".
Although species cannot be given scientific names until a type specimen is discovered, Physeter tursio has been suggested as the High-finned Sperm Whale's scientific name by an early observer. A possible sighting was off the Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia, Cana
da on either August or September 27, 1946. It was apparently trapped there for 2 days. Its length was estimated to be between 10 and 100 feet .