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Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This unusual lava tube spouts seawater during high surf.
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- What's inside a whale's blowhole — and it's not seawater.
- Two whales killed by sole fish stuck in their blowholes | New Scientist.
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See contest rules for full details. Every weekday we compile our most wondrous stories and deliver them straight to you. They were just two regular flatfish caught up in extraordinary events — with each killing a pilot whale times its size. Pilot whales and common soles normally live separate lives.
What's inside a whale's blowhole — and it's not seawater
But when one tried to eat the other it led to a fight to the death, with the whale asphyxiated when the fish became trapped in its blowhole trying to wriggle its way out of the animal. Even more strangely, it happened twice in the space of a few weeks. The events took place in November , when a pod of long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas — normally found in the North Atlantic, in deep offshore waters and along the edge of continental shelves — was spotted just a few hundred metres off the coasts of Belgium and the eastern UK.
They soon vanished, but a badly decomposed pilot whale washed up on the Dutch coast six weeks later. Lonneke IJsseldijk , a post-mortem researcher in the faculty of veterinary medicine at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, examined the whale and found, to her astonishment, a common sole Solea solea stuck partly in the blowhole through which the whale breathes. Pilot whales eat squid and other cephalopods, but IJsseldijk thinks they were forced to change their diets while visiting shallower waters. The common sole was, however, an unfortunate choice: these fish have flexible bodies that can roll up in any direction, as well as acrobatic skills.
Another possibility is that the whales inadvertently pushed the fish into their blowholes when trying to swallow them.
Whales have unusual larynxes, which they can dislocate when trying to eat fish.