Clever Whales drop giant “Poop Вօmbs” to Escape from Orca Attack

A group of whales has been spotted defending themselves from a pod of hungry orcas by using a rare and defense mechanism that most would consider pretty disgusting.

sperm whales and orca

The pod of sperm whales was being hunted by a group of orcas off the coast of Western Australia, and after apparently exhausting themselves, warded off their hungry attackers with a giant cloud of diarrhea.

Whales Find 'Unusual' Way of Defending Themselves Against Orca Attacks

This ability to poop at will as a form of self-defense is a rare trait and defense mechanism used by sperm whales.

Stock image of sperm whales (main) and an orca (inset). A pod of sperm whales defended themselves from attacking orcas using defensive pooping.

Sperm Whales Thwart Fatal Orca Attack With Unusual Defence: “Cloud Of  Diarrhea” | IFLScience

The pod of orcas attempted to attack the sperm whale group on Tuesday, around 30 miles off the coast in a marine hotspot called Bremer Canyon. The scene was witnessed by people aboard a Naturaliste Charters tour boat.

“It’s called defensive defecation,” marine biologist Jennah Tucker, who works aboard the tour boat, told local news ABC Great Southern. “And because sperm whale’s diet consists mostly of squid, they actually have this really reddish coloured poo,” she said.

Sperm whales under attack by orcas defend themselves with a 'poo-nami' |  National Post

“And it seems like it actually did work in this case,” she said.

Battle of the Apex Predators
While the past couple of weeks have been nothing short of amazing with a diversity of marine life having been sighted in the Bremer Canyon, we have been…

Sperm whales have been seen pooing on orcas in what scientists think may be  a form of 'defensive defecation' - Discover Wildlife

Orcas are opportunistic feeders and have a diverse diet that includes fish, marine mammals (such as seals, sea lions, and walruses), sharks, rays, squid, and even other whale species. Orcas often hunt cooperatively in coordinated groups called pods, which can consist of multiple generations of related individuals and can vary in size from just a few individuals to over 40 or more. Cooperative hunting allows orcas to target larger prey more effectively and increases their chances of success.

Initially, the sperm whales seemed exhausted, struggling to stay together and safe from the attacking orcas.

Expedition documents epic clash between orcas and sperm whales - Men's  Journal

“They were sort of poking their heads out of the water and letting out these huge heaving breaths,” Tucker explained.

The people aboard the boat then saw a bubble of reddish material rise to the surface, concerning them that it may have been blood from one of the whales.

Sperm Whale vs Orca: Titans Of The Deep Clash – Ocean Action Hub

“What was originally thought to have been a bubble of blood exploding on the surface, has since been confirmed as faeces. Sperm whales are known to defecate when threatened, referred to as emergency or defensive defection,” Naturaliste Charters Bremer Canyon Killer Whale and Pelagic Expeditions said in a Facebook post describing the scene. “The cloud of diarrhoea created when the whale waves its tail through its poo acts to deter predators and in this case, seemed to work! Given their faeces appear reddish in colour, due to their diet consisting of 90 percent squid, it’s no surprise it was easily mistaken for blood.”

“Regardless of the outcome, the orca put on an intense pursuit which showcased their power and elite hunting techniques, allowing them to herd the ocean’s largest toothed predator into the shallows. But it seemed that today they were no match for the defence tactics of the sperm whales whose incredibly strong bonds and unusual defence technique helped them to withstand an attack from the apex of apex predators,” the post read.

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The sperm whales then proceed to move their tails through the trail of poop, confusing their predators. The whales also clustered closely together, forming a starburst shape with their heads in the center and their tails fanning out around them.

“This is called a rosette, another defensive mechanism they use when they’re under attack,” Tucker said.

Is there any animal other than (maybe) megalodon that could defeat an orca  pack? - Quora

The orcas then rapidly backed away, leaving the sperm whales alone.

“It was like the orcas said, no, not worth our time, everyone move out,” she said.

Sperm Whale Defecation | Tony Wu Underwater Photography

This defense mechanism has been seen in sperm whales before, notably in 2015 when a diver found himself suddenly surrounded by a cloud of feces after jumping into the water to take photos of the whale.The Western Australia orca attack itself was surprising, Tucker said, as sperm whales are usually at the very top of the food chain, and orcas very rarely try to attack them.Sperm Whale Defecation | Physeter macrocephalus | Tony Wu Underwater  Photography

“Sperm whales are considered an apex predator, and historically, it was thought that they were pretty much immune to killer whale attacks,” Tucker said. “But there have been a few accounts now of successful predations on sperm whales, but it is extremely rare globally and historically.”

A map shows the location of Bremer Canyon, which lies off of the coast of Western Australia.

However, the orcas in the Bremer Canyon area appear to be more audacious than most, attacking creatures as large as even blue whales.

“We have seen the Bremer orcas do some pretty crazy things; they don’t shy away from too much,” Tucker said. “It’s actually pretty adventurous for orcas to try to take on sperm whales. They’re punching above their weight.”

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