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As some of the largest animals on Earth, whales have a few different tricks up their sleeves when it comes to defending themselves. But how do they do it? And how effective are they? Well, before we begin, let’s first take a look at what actually eats whales.
So, what eats whales? You’d think that being so big whales wouldn’t have any natural predators – and they typically don’t. However, there are a couple of sea creatures that have been known to prey on whales, with the most notable being sharks, particularly great whites. And although any whale is for the taking, whales that are young or sick are the most vulnerable since they are the easiest to target. Aside from sharks, though, the only other animal that has been known to prey on whales is the orca. Also known as killer whales, orcas aren’t really whales; they’re actually the largest of the dolphin species. And as apex predators, these creatures are dangerous for just about any sea animal.
As previously mentioned, whales have a few different tactics when it comes to defending themselves. For whales that are toothed, they can use their teeth to attack their prey and protect themselves from certain dangers.
However, the two primary tools of defense for whales are 1.) their tail and 2.) their size. These are especially true for larger whale species. When being attacked, whales can thrash their tails around, both injuring and frightening their attacker. Traveling in groups (known as pods) is also another effective tactic. Due to their size, whales reduce the risk of predation by traveling together.
So we know how whales defend themselves, but how do whales protect their young? Well, whales protect their young similarly to how they’d protect themselves – by traveling in pods. Again, by traveling in numbers, whales make it harder for sharks or orcas to target a specific member. If they feel threatened, though, whales will form a circle with their head facing inward, tail facing out. This allows them to protect the young in the middle while attacking with their tail from behind.
Unfortunately, there are also things that whales can’t protect themselves from. Although not a natural predator, humans have practiced commercial whaling for hundreds of years. Thankfully, though, this number has declined over time, for many countries have set regulations and restrictions that have outlawed whaling. Additionally, pollution is another leading cause of declining whale populations. Chemicals from oil spills and other disposed waste are extremely toxic for both whales and all sea life. With enough knowledge, consideration, and action, though, we can combat these dangers and help provide a cleaner, safer ocean for these animals.
For those wanting to catch a glimpse of whales up close and in the wild, visit Harbor Breeze in Southern California. Our whale watching tours in Long Beach and Los Angeles give visitors the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to embark on a sea adventure! Our cruises give you front-row tickets to the coolest performance in the world – in addition to whales, you might see dolphins, sea lions, and other beautiful marine creatures. Book a tour today!