Is it normal for a whale to bleed when begining their dive?
August 8, 2014 8:21 PM   Subscribe

Calling all marine biologists! Question about whales and their health inside.

Yesterday I was on a whale watching cruise with my family and we got to see a humpback whale flashing it's tail just before it dove. My little guy (who's somewhat of a hypochondriac at the best of times) commented that he saw blood in the water. I didn't really see anything at the time but upon reviewing the movies I took during the cruise I did see what my son saw. Just as the whale started to dive a large bubble of bloody water appears near the base of the tail.

I know that there's not much that anyone could do for the whale but I'm curious if this is indicative of a problem for the whale or maybe something else (recent calving perhaps).
posted by smcniven to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you sure it was blood and not feces?
posted by axiom at 8:32 PM on August 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

It looked pretty red to me, but I really don't know what whale feces would look like!
posted by smcniven at 8:35 PM on August 8, 2014

Google image search is your friend. Seriously, you can get hits for "whale defecation" (and some of them look red enough to be confused for blood). What a time to be alive.
posted by axiom at 8:37 PM on August 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

LOL. I think you're the winner tonight! I didn't even think of that angle but sure enough there a photo on Google Images that looks a lot like the video I shot.
posted by smcniven at 8:41 PM on August 8, 2014

IANA marine biologist. But I've seen a lot of whale feces.

Humpback whales are baleen whales. Baleen whales' diet is composed of krill, which are rather orange like. And as a result, baleen whale feces tend to be rather orangish-red. Also, whale feces are quire iron rich (link goes to the only non-journal link I could find.)

If you really want to google something, google whale feces and collector.
posted by barchan at 8:46 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I worked at an aquarium with whales as a high school student, and saw this a lot. What you saw is poop. It was most likely "blood red" because the whales eat krill and shrimp, which is rich in iron.
posted by Nevin at 10:54 AM on August 9, 2014

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