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Are Orcas Intimidated of Bull Sperm Whales?

Bull Sperm Whales are massive predators. With their large brain, sharp teeth, and sonar abilities, they possess excellent hunting skills that guarantee their success in catching jumbo squids, sharks, and other sea creatures.

 Bull sperm whales have been observed to attack and intimidate pods of orcas. They are some of the few animals orcas stay away from as they are large and mighty. However, orcas do target their calves and feeble adults. 

The Predatory Bull Sperm Whales

The Physeter macrocephalus, most commonly referred to as the sperm whale or the cachalot, is the most massive toothed whale and toothed predator. Distributed worldwide, they’re seen both in tropical and polar latitudes. An adult male sperm is more than 16 meters long and more than 45 tons in weight. Only the baleen whales can go against them in size, and unlike the sperm whales, they’re not active predators.

A sperm whale is a mammal that resides in the open sea, known to travel seasonally for breeding and feeding, and they specialize in hunting jumbo-sized squids within the deep parts of the sea, sharks, and large bony fishes. (Source: Oceana

The calves and adult female sperm whales stay together as groups, with mature male sperm whales, or bulls, living alone except during breeding season. With that, sperm whales only have a few natural predators, with pods of orcas or killer whales killing young sperm whales and weakened adults. (Source: Thai National Parks

Seemingly, sperm whales find jumbo-sized squids luscious as they consume more than 200 billion pounds of squid per year, which nearly reach the equivalent of the annual harvest of commercial fisheries worldwide. Although the jumbo squids are 6 feet long and can weigh up to a hundred pounds, they’re no match for the predatory capabilities of the sperm whales. (Source: NBC News

The advantageous combination of their big, cone-shaped teeth, their large brains, and their powerful sonar are all factors that contribute to the wide-ranging predatory skills of sperm whales. Moreover, the sperm whales’ capability to deep dive depths of 1,000 meters while staying there for up to two hours plays a significant role in increasing their chances of catching prey. (Source: Oceana

The Bull Sperm Whale and the Killer Whale Feud

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are the largest dolphin species and are considered one of the deadliest predators. They’re carnivorous mammals that can reach 32 feet long and can weigh up to 6 tons. Additionally, orcas are apex predators that feast on various animals, giving no exception to sperm whales.

Orcas hunt and prey in groups called pods, and with the aid of their intellect, they hunt in a highly efficient and collaborative manner, and they’re known to use numerous techniques catered to their prey. (Source: National Geographic

With the strength and intelligence a pod of orcas carries, can orcas successfully kill their bigger-in-size rival, the mature sperm whale?

A sperm whale tail crashing down on a killer whale would be a potentially life-threatening experience. On the other hand, despite their giant size and impressive teeth, sperm whales are actually quite timid and terrified in the presence of killer whales, and, amazingly, they don’t seem to directly target killer whales with their tail slapping.

Robert Pitman

On April 18, 2013, a photographer spotted an occurring battle between groups of orcas and sperm whales. Shawn Heinrichs, the photographer, noted the tendency of sperm whales to form a group when attacked. The five orcas in the pod slammed themselves into the six sperm whales while biting them, and eventually, a young sperm whale separated from the group, becoming vulnerable to the hungry orcas. (Source: Wired)

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