Whales and Ammonia

CapnNemo

Vampyroteuthis
Supporter
#1
Hello

I was reading Monty's thread about Wikipedia and the inaccuracies contained in their Giant Squid entry. I think it was Steve who said:

"Whether the whale is attracted to crap-tasting food is another leap - maybe that's all that's available and it just tolerates it."

Can the whale neutralise the ammonia? Wouldn't it be poisonous?
Is there an overlap between Cephalopod and Whale science that can explain why the whale eats something that must taste pretty foul? As it's a mammal I'm guessing that a sperm whale's taste buds are fairly developed, mind you I've seen a dog eat some cat poo before and not seem bothered, but ammonia's something else isn't it?

:whalevsa:
 

Steve O'Shea

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#2
A lot of the ammonium ions in these squid are concentrated in the mantle. All we really know for sure is that the whale eats a tremendous number of squid, based on the numbers of beaks retained in the stomach; the beaks are found in the 'head end' of the squid.

I would be pretty surprised if the whale ate only heads, discarding the mantle, but on a large squid it is something worth considering. They might be a little more selective in their 'grazing' than we give them credit for. However, captive/rehabilitating whales are prone to gastric problems when fed commercially available (non-ammoniacal) loliginid squid (check out some of the work done at MOTE Marine Lab, Sarasota, Florida), so perhaps the whale does need the ammonium ion loads in these deep-sea squid.

Lots of questions, absolutely no answers. You'd need to sit inside one of these animals with probes to find out what was going on. Any takers?
 

Snafflehound

GPO
Registered
#3
Steve O'Shea said:
Lots of questions, absolutely no answers. You'd need to sit inside one of these animals with probes to find out what was going on. Any takers?
I would suggest you look for a wooden puppet with a cricket sidekick as they are known to end up in such situations!
 

CapnNemo

Vampyroteuthis
Supporter
#4
I understand also that according to Judaic/Christian belief some prophets attempting to escape by ship can end up in a Whale's gullet. Perhaps they, or the wooden fellow (who I suspect has no strings), Snafflehound speaks of could be rigged up with a camera.

What about if you created a Giant Squid shaped and sized rubber Lure and got someone to get into it with a series of probes and a camera, then dangled it off the back of a ship in the whale feeding ground. That would make good TV and could attract sponsorship. :lol:

Thanks for that Steve, it does raise more questions though, I don't understand much about organic chemistry, would the whale use the ammonium ions to help in some way with the pressures of their deep dives?

Another question: Has the ban on whaling affected Giant Squid research, or was there no real interaction between Whalekillers and the scientific community? I note that Japan still carries out 'scientific whaling', does this throw up any information on Giant Squid? I'm thinking things like average numbers of beaks found in a whale's tum.
 

Steve O'Shea

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#5
... sponsorship, sponsorship, sponsorship .... sigh.

The squid + pillcam towed behind a boat in sperm whale territory is something we chat about often (amongst squid and whale folk). It will happen one of these days; hard to say when, but not that far away.

I actually did something several weeks ago about accessing stomach contents from 'scientific-caught whales', but haven't had a response yet. Perhaps my rather strong language (anti) re 'scientific whaling' frightened them off. Regardless, if they are going to do this then as much scientific gain should be made from the travesty (but not to justify the practice!!!!).

I was actually at a meeting yesterday where both pro and anti-whaling views were expressed to several ministers; I couldn't believe what I was hearing ... IN NEW ZEALAND!!!
 

Fujisawas Sake

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
Supporter
Registered
#6
Steve O'Shea said:
I would be pretty surprised if the whale ate only heads, discarding the mantle, but on a large squid it is something worth considering. They might be a little more selective in their 'grazing' than we give them credit for. However, captive/rehabilitating whales are prone to gastric problems when fed commercially available (non-ammoniacal) loliginid squid (check out some of the work done at MOTE Marine Lab, Sarasota, Florida), so perhaps the whale does need the ammonium ion loads in these deep-sea squid.
Well, most mammals excrete excess ammonium ions by conversion to urea, so if we could follow a sperm whale around and take urine samples it might give us some insight. (No, I'm not kidding.)

You know, this is a VERY interesting physiology question. Eating ammoniac squid probably would have a linked evolutionary adaptation to metabolizing the excess ammonia. Maybe an enzyme in the kidneys?

Any thoughts out there?

John
 

Fujisawas Sake

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
Supporter
Registered
#7
Steve O'Shea said:
I was actually at a meeting yesterday where both pro and anti-whaling views were expressed to several ministers; I couldn't believe what I was hearing ... IN NEW ZEALAND!!!
And one more thing: How does "Scientifically Caught" end up as "Dog Meat"? For crying out loud...

Non-Cetacean, Nori-Rich Vegetable Sushi and HARD-CORE "Oni-Koroshi" Sake,

John
 

Jean

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#8
Fujisawas Sake said:
Well, most mammals excrete excess ammonium ions by conversion to urea, so if we could follow a sperm whale around and take urine samples it might give us some insight. (No, I'm not kidding.)

John

I had this incredible mental picture of our cetcean researchers following sperm whales with a ginormous "pooper scooper" :twisted: or getting jumbo sized nappies (sorry diapers :lol: ) on a whale :shock:

I think I'd better go for :coffee: my brain is starting to spin out of control!

J
 

Steve O'Shea

Colossal Squid
Supporter
#9
Steve O'Shea said:
I actually did something several weeks ago about accessing stomach contents from 'scientific-caught whales', but haven't had a response yet.
Some interesting things might soon happen, I think.
 

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