Whales and toilets

From: Phil Clapham (phillip.clapham@noaa.gov)
Date: Tue Sep 03 2002 - 09:34:46 EDT

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    Hello Angela:

    Well, it's a little known fact that there are several whale outhouses
    constructed next to sulphur vents in very deep water on the mid-Atlantic
    Ridge; but since the trip out there from places where whales live (like
    Cape Cod) is a very long one, whales have evolved to "hold it" for
    prolonged periods...

    OK, so I'm making this up. Truth is, whales pee and poop wherever they
    happen to be at the time, in the water. Whale poop varies in color
    depending on the animal's diet, and you can actually tell what a whale
    has been eating from this. Any whale feeding on krill will have bright
    red poop; if the animal has ben eating fish, the defecation is usually

    Believe it or not (and after my first paragraph above you're probably
    disinclined to to, but this is true, I swear!) you can actually tell a
    lot about whales from analysis of their poop. My friend Dr Roz Rolland
    collects right whale poop and extracts hormones from it, from which she
    can tell whether the animal is sexually mature and (if female) whether
    it's pregnant or not. It's pretty cool, though Roz probably isn't wild
    about the fact that everyone now refers to her as the Poop Queen.

    Phil Clapham

    > angela wrote:
    > hi me & some friends were talking about whales the other day and we
    > came to the question where do whales go to the ''toilet'' we have
    > searched the web but have had trouble finding the answer please if you
    > could help e-mail me the answer to wiggle_wiggle69@hotmail.com
    > thank you.


    Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

    tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email: pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu

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