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Diver Caught in Whale 'Poonado'

Cloud of feces was 100 feet in diameter
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2015 12:34 PM CST
Diver Caught in Whale 'Poonado'
This Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 photo shows sperm whales swimming in the waters off the the coast of Dana Point, Calif.   (AP Photo/Capt. Dave Anderson/ DolphinSafari.com)

(Newser) – As octopuses shoot out ink as a defense mechanism, so sperm whales blast threats with poop. At least that's the theory explained by a diver to the BBC. Keri Wilk and three fellow divers were engulfed in what he describes as a "poonado" let loose by one such whale off the coast of Dominica. Wilk wasn't using scuba gear, since that can bother whales, the New York Daily News reports. That means he had little protection: "I had poop in my eyes, mouth, wetsuit, everywhere," he tells the BBC. "I was soaked in it from head to toe."

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He described the cloud of feces as being some "30 or 40 meters in diameter," or about 100 feet. The whale was diving, and the animals often poop while diving, Wilk said. But this time, it stopped mid-dive. "And then it started to evacuate its bowels, and didn't stop for several minutes." It even seemed to try to wave the feces toward the divers with its tail. "But, after leaving the cloud, it quickly washed away and didn't leave a smell on us," he says. The group got some rather alarming photos of the whole thing. (Whales, it seems, aren't so into being watched.)

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