Poll: Who wins?
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Bowhead Whale
30.00%
3 30.00%
Orca Pod (of 5)
70.00%
7 70.00%
Total 10 vote(s) 100%
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Bowhead Whale v Orca Pod (of 5)
#1
Bowhead Whale - Balaena mysticetus
The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a species of the family Balaenidae, in parvorder Mysticeti, and genus Balaena, which once included the right whale. A stocky dark-coloured whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow 14 to 18 m (46 to 59 ft) in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh from 75 to 100 tonnes (74 to 98 long tons; 83 to 110 short tons). They live entirely in fertile Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, unlike other whales that migrate to low latitude waters to feed or reproduce. The bowhead was also known as the Greenland right whale or Arctic whale. American whalemen called them the steeple-top, polar whale, or Russia or Russian whale. The bowhead has the largest mouth of any animal. The diet consists of mostly zooplankton which includes copepods, amphipods, and many other crustaceans.

[Image: after-feeding-a-bowhead-whale-comes-paul....570.cache]

Orca Pod (of 5) - Orcinus orca
The killer whale (Orcinus orca), commonly referred to as the orca whale or orca, and less commonly as the blackfish, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. Transient Orcas: The diet of these whales consists almost exclusively of marine mammals; they do not eat fish. Transients generally travel in small groups, usually of two to six animals, and have less persistent family bonds than residents. Transients vocalize in less variable and less complex dialects. Female transients are characterized by more triangular and pointed dorsal fins than those of residents. The gray or white area around the dorsal fin, known as the "saddle patch", often contains some black colouring in residents. However, the saddle patches of transients are solid and uniformly gray. Transients roam widely along the coast; some individuals have been sighted in both southern Alaska and California. Killer whales are the largest extant members of the dolphin family. Males typically range from 6 to 8 metres (20–26 ft) long and weigh in excess of 6 tonnes (5.9 long tons; 6.6 short tons). Females are smaller, generally ranging from 5 to 7 metres (16–23 ft) and weighing about 3 to 4 tonnes (3.0 to 3.9 long tons; 3.3 to 4.4 short tons). The largest male killer whale on record was 9.8 metres (32 ft), weighing over 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons), while the largest female was 8.5 metres (28 ft), weighing 7.5 tonnes (7.4 long tons; 8.3 short tons).

[Image: Orca_pod_southern_residents.jpg]



(08-13-2019, 05:59 PM)rorqual Wrote: What about Bowhead whale versus five orcas?
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
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#2
Thank you Taipan. There are some accounts of interactions between the species here which may help people come to a conclusion.

Date: 1998, Number of KWs: 4, Number of BWs: 11-12.

"Bowheads pursued by killer whales rapidly retreated into nearshore waters."

Date: September 1985, Number of KWs: 22, Number of BWs: 23.

"Bowheads grouped together and moved into shallow water at approach by killer whales. One bowhead offshore harassed and possibly attacked, with much associated splashing."

Date: September 1984, Number of KWs: 4, Number of BWs: 1.

"Two of four killer whales approached single bowhead, after which there was much splashing and upwellings for 12 min."

Date: August 1975, Number of KWs: 5, Number of BWs: 1.

"Five killer whales surrounded a large bowhead, which thrashed with its flukes in defence."

Date: July 1922, Number of KWs: unknown, Number of BWs: 5.

"Bowheads chased into narrow crack in ice by killer whales."

Date: Mid 1800s, Number of KWs: unknown, Number of BWs: unknown.

"Killer whales attacked by holding onto bowhead’s tail and fins, and jumping on its blowholes apparently to obstruct breathing. Bowhead struck one killer whale with its tail flukes, possibly killing it in the process."

From the fantastic work of Ford and Reeves: https://www.researchgate.net/publication...een_whales
[-] The following 4 users Like rorqual's post:
  • Lightning, M4A2E4, OldGreenVulture, Taipan
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#3
Killer Whales of course. Whale dies because of blood loss.
[Image: images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcT3njqF11jQ7D2WpTr-l...iTQwMphaum]
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#4
Nice accounts posted. It seems the bowhead can be dangerous according to the last account posted. Bowhead whales can weigh up to 100 tonnes according to the op. I think the five orcas can still win with enough persistance.
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#5
If anecdotal evidence from Inuit people is believed, there have been at least seventeen observations in which killer whales have killed adult bowheads. Cetacean expert Richard Pitman says "killer whales are adept at taking adult bowheads" (source: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/01/...y-revealed).

The mean group size of killer whales when attacking bowheads was six (rounded down from 6.2). So basically, groups of killer whales, which had six members on average, have killed seventeen adult bowhead whales (source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication...interviews).

It appears that five killer whales may have the advantage. It sucks how I can’t change my vote.
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  • Lightning
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#6
I'm surprised that the bowhead whale has as many votes as the orcas. Because it's actually not even close. It's a mismatch. Just a mismatch that would take a really long time. I mean a very poorly armed baleen whale killing five very fast and agile orcas in a single confrontation when there isn't even a single strong account of a baleen whale killing an orca in real life despite the fact orcas commonly hunt baleen whales? Is that even remotely realistic? In real life, the orcas wouldn't bother most of the time because it would take a tremendous amount of time and effort but, in a fight to the death, five orcas would defeat a bowhead whale almost every single time. Vice versa would be a very, very fluke incidence.
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#7
Lightning Wrote:I mean a very poorly armed baleen whale killing five very fast and agile orcas

Sorry to disagree with you again Lightning, but the fight species of baleen whale are far from poorly armed.

The fight strategists (which includes the bowhead whale) defend themselves by striking with pectoral flippers and tail flukes, and head ramming, either individually or cooperatively. Fight species have massive, robust bodies, and they are highly manoeuvrable swimmers. Many of them are encrusted with barnacles, which protect their skin from external forces.

Lightning Wrote:when there isn't even a single strong account of a baleen whale killing an orca in real life despite the fact orcas commonly hunt baleen whales?

I posted this account above, in which a killer whale was struck and possibly killed by a bowhead whale.

"Killer whales attacked by holding onto bowhead’s tail and fins, and jumping on its blowholes apparently to obstruct breathing. Bowhead struck one killer whale with its tail flukes, possibly killing it in the process."

Lightning Wrote:In real life, the orcas wouldn't bother most of the time because it would take a tremendous amount of time and effort

AND there is a significant risk of injury:

"High-speed pursuit of flight species has a high energetic cost and a low probability of success while attacks on fight species can involve prolonged handling times and a risk of serious injury."

Lightning, I urge you to give this a read, even just skim through it: https://www.researchgate.net/publication...een_whales

You'll learn all about how baleen whales defend themselves. I still favour the killer whales and all, but I will defend the bowhead whale should someone call this a mismatch.
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#8
(08-14-2019, 09:08 PM)rorqual Wrote: Sorry to disagree with you again Lightning, but the fight species of baleen whale are far from poorly armed.

The fight strategists (which includes the bowhead whale) defend themselves by striking with pectoral flippers and tail flukes, and head ramming, either individually or cooperatively. Fight species have massive, robust bodies, and they are highly manoeuvrable swimmers. Many of them are encrusted with barnacles, which protect their skin from external forces.

Hi Rorqual,

Bowhead and other baleen whales are poorly armed compared to the orcas, toothed whales in general, sharks etc. Fins and tails are inferior weapons to jaws.

(08-14-2019, 09:08 PM)rorqual Wrote: I posted this account above, in which a killer whale was struck and possibly killed by a bowhead whale.

"Killer whales attacked by holding onto bowhead’s tail and fins, and jumping on its blowholes apparently to obstruct breathing. Bowhead struck one killer whale with its tail flukes, possibly killing it in the process."

I'm aware of that. I said we're not aware of even a single 'strong' account of a baleen whale having killed an orca although orcas commonly hunt baleen whales. The account you posted isn't a strong account because the author is not sure whether the orca died or survived, the account says the orca was 'possibly' killed, they're not sure.

So, we have several records of orcas hunting baleen whales but we do not have a single account where we know for sure that an orca has been killed by baleen whales, only one or few accounts where an orca may have been killed but we're not really sure. How is it realistic, then, that a lone bowhead whale can kill five orcas by itself in a single confrontation?

(08-14-2019, 09:08 PM)rorqual Wrote: AND there is a significant risk of injury:

"High-speed pursuit of flight species has a high energetic cost and a low probability of success while attacks on fight species can involve prolonged handling times and a risk of serious injury."

Lightning, I urge you to give this a read, even just skim through it: https://www.researchgate.net/publication...een_whales

You'll learn all about how baleen whales defend themselves. I still favour the killer whales and all, but I will defend the bowhead whale should someone call this a mismatch.

I see.

But I still view the idea of a lone bowhead whale killing five orcas in a single confrontation as unrealistic. Five orcas killing a lone bowhead whale is unlikely but not unrealistic, imo.
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#9
(08-14-2019, 10:44 PM)Lightning Wrote: But I still view the idea of a lone bowhead whale killing five orcas in a single confrontation as unrealistic.
I don't think it's too unrealistic though. According to the OP, the Bowhead weighs from 75-100 tonnes while the Orca weighs 'only' 6 tonnes. The Bowhead is about 12.5 to 17 times the size of Orca. That's a serious size advantage considering that we only have 5 Orcas here. It's understandable how even a pectoral fin strike from this giant Whale can injure an Orca. Bowhead also appears quite robust and is described as 'thick-bodied' as in the OP.
[Image: bowhead.png]
[Image: 3lt761fpevo21-Copy.png]
Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. They come from the sky.
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#10
It is unrealistic, not because the bowhead whale lacks the size and strength to do it but because it lacks the speed and agility to do it. Yes, I have read the sources posted above and I know that the bowhead whale is relatively fast and agile but it is far less so than an orca. Yes, bowhead whales may have landed lucky hits on orcas in the past but one managing to do so enough times in a single confrontation to kill five orcas is unrealistic.

Edit: also note that, on post five, Rorqual posted sources stating that there are 17 records of orcas killing adult bowhead whales but none among them mention anything about even a single orca having been killed by a bowhead whale, despite the fact the bowhead whale is a 'fight' species. Take that into consideration. In some of those hunts, the bowhead whales would have been in groups but they still didn't manage to kill a single orca. It's clearly really, really difficult for a bowhead whale to hit an orca, let alone five in a single confrontation, despite the bowhead whale being fast and agile for its size.

Yes, I know about the 19th century account Rorqual posted where the bowhead whale managed to hit an orca but the sources he posted about orcas hunting bowhead whales indicate that a bowhead whale managing to hit an orca, let alone five in a single confrontation, is a fluke rather than the norm.
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#11
Orcas are not nearly as efficient killers as people think they are, scientific observation notes that pods of orca struggle to bring down much smaller minke whale. Then again, a bowhead does seem to be lacking any notable weaponry.
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#12
One important thing about this interaction is the depth of the water. I mean, bowhead whales tend to sneak into shallow water to avoid killer whales. In shallow water, orcas cannot generate enough speed to hit these whales with great force.

But I agree with the lightning. Perhaps the situation could be considered a BW's victory if it isn't preyed at the end of the match. But I can't see BW killing its opponents. The killer whales pod can abort the attack at any time and leave (perhaps that's why we have no record of baleen whales killing orcas. And that's why I say that predator-prey interactions are predatory-friendly as they usually can only stop the ambush if the thing becomes dangerous).


I think the two whales most likely to hurt orcas are the gray and obviously the humpback (which is probably the second most powerful fighter of all nature).

Sorry about my english.
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