‘Whales’ And Dolphins May Work Together

Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Sci-Tech, Science with 0 Comments
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Anna Salleh | ABCnet | Oct 10th 2013

WhaleFalse killer whales and bottlenose dolphins in New Zealand form long-term partnerships that might help them fend off predators or find food, researchers suggest.

Masters student Jochen Zaeschmar, and colleagues, from Massey University’s Coastal-Marine Research Group, report their findings in a recent issue of Mammal Review.


“There is a long-term association between, not just the two species, but between actual individuals,” says Zaeschmar.

False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are actually a rare type of dolphin that are sometimes found together with bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

But, until now there has been little research to investigate whether this association is just a matter of coincidence, or whether there issomething more to it.

“The first time I ever saw them together I was intrigued straight away because it seemed to be not random,” says Zaeschmar. “They were so happy in each others’ company. It was almost like it was one species.”

False killer whales are three times the volume and two times the length of bottle nose dolphins and are jet black rather than grey.

Fin identification system

In a study spanning 17 years and 700 kilometres of territory in New Zealand waters, Zaeschmar and colleagues studied the movements of 61 false killer whales and 200 bottle nose dolphins, identifying individual animals by unique markings on their fins.

“There are nicks and notches and cuts in the backs of their fin that they accumulate over time – and they’re permanent,” says Zaeschmar. “We produced an identification catalogue for each species.”

The study was challenging, with researchers having to get up close to take photos of the fins while the animals were moving in the open ocean.

But the findings have been worth the trouble.

“Not only are we seeing the same whales over and over again, but also the same dolphins,” says Zaeschmar.

“They basically do everything together. They feed together, they travel together, they rest together. We have not seen any physical state where they have not been together.”

The animals also have physical contact and have been known to produce viable hybrids in captivity.

“It’s a pretty exciting thing that these relationships last much longer than we thought,” says Zaeschmar.

Safety in numbers

Zaeschmar offers a number of theories as to why this long-term association exists.

One idea is that there is safety in numbers – the more individuals there are in a group, the more eyes there are looking out for predators, and if a predator does come, the less chance there is of any one individual being chosen.

[read full post here]

Tags: , , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the stories on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top

Send this to friend