Animal Defense Mechanism: Whales Release ‘Giant Cloud of Diarrhea’ to Fend Off Orca Attacks

Animal defense mechanism is a biological and behavioral trait that is significant to all species across the animal kingdom. This so-called survival strategy allows or increases the chance of an animal’s prey to survive, particularly at times when being hunted by one or more predators. Although this mechanism seems to be universal, it involves unique morphological features or skills that are distinct for different animals.

Recently, a whale-watching tour in the waters off Western Australia showed an unusual, bizarre type of defense mechanism used by whales against their predators: orcas. Based on reports earlier this week, people on board a tour boat in Australian waters observed whales releasing a “giant cloud of diarrhea” to fend off orca attacks. The rare survival mechanism was used by a group of sperm whales against their hungry predators.

Defensive Defecation

Animal Defense Mechanism: Whales Release 'Giant Cloud of Diarrhea' to Fend Off Orca Attacks
(Photo : Photo by Vivek Kumar on Unsplash)

The rare self-defense trait called “defensive defecation” was used by the sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) off Western Australia where they are being hunted by some of the world’s most elusive apex predators. The “poop bombs” were triggered after the large marine mammals got apparently exhausted from being chased by the orcas, also called killer whales (Orcinus orca).

In a Facebook post on March 19, marine biologist Jennah Tucker wrote a blog published by the Naturaliste Charters whale-watching company detailing the events of the sperm whale-orca encounter. Tucker explains that the ‘cloud of diarrhea’ is created when the whale waves its tail through its poo, which appears to deter their predators. In this case against killer whales, the animal defense mechanism of P. macrocephalus worked.

Details of the post are available on the Facebook page of the boat tour agency Naturaliste Charters Bremer Canyon Killer Whale and Pelagic Expeditions. The company is the pioneer of whale watching in Southwest Australia, according to its website.

Also Read: Researchers Discovered the Self Defense Mechanism of Water Fleas Against Animals and Carnivorous Plants

Animal Defense Mechanism

Animal defense mechanism includes a variety of biological traits and tactics found in some animal species to either escape or fight their pursuing predators. These mechanisms include camouflage, mimicry, and poison, as well as the utilization of claws and teeth. If humans have the tools and superior cognition to survive, other animals such as mammals and reptiles use everything at their physical disposal against predators.

The ability to use defensive traits is also a product of evolution, which allowed our ancestors and other animals to survive even in harsh environments, in addition to other predatory creatures. According to a 2014 study published in the journal Evolution, researchers from the University of California, Davis explored why some anti-predator traits evolved in some species but not in other animal species.

By focusing on skunks, the research team posed the question as to why noxious scents as an animal defense mechanism were used to defend themselves against predators. The team found that noxious spraying, as a close-range defense mechanism, was favorable to some animals that were nocturnal and mostly vulnerable to other animals.

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