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Cetacean Behaviour

Cetacean social behaviour

Hard to study Define size and shape of community Limited idea of sociability Artificial notions Animals traveling alone may have members of a larger social unit

Examples of social units

Grey whale: not very social
migrate in pods =2-5 form larger units in cold water feeding areas and calving lagoons

Examples of social units

Blue whale: travel in close nit groups of 2-4
Larger herds in feeding areas

Fin Whales: travel in herds of 3-20

High # when feeding on krill

Examples of social units

Minke whales: roam alone or in groups of 2 some times congregate at edge of pack ice to feed

Humpback whales : pods of 2-3

Pod: group of whales, dolphins, or porpoise which can be quite complex (Some only form pods for short times)

Breaching: leap from water and fall back with a splash ( reason unknown)
36 ft whale 17 miles/hr swim parallel to surface than raises fluke and tilts upward

Spy hopping : whales or dolphins raise their heads out of the water for short periods of time (take a look around)

Lobtailing or tail slapping: raise flukes and forcefully slaps the water
can be heard for 7rl miles common in humpbacks, grey & right whale aggression or warning display (communication)

Flipper slapping: whale lies on its side and and lifts it s pectoral fins out of the water and slaps it down creating a cracking noise Bowriding: dolphins place themselves in the wave created by boats

Logging : whale lies still or near the surface for an extended period of time
Believed to be a resting behaviour or maybe sleeping catnaps with brain function

Baleen whales
Less social than odontocetes; form loose aggregations
Seasonal breeding aggregations with intense social activity Often in small pods (less than 12) Some work cooperatively to feed

Baleen whales
Tropics: male humpbacks sing loud and long and repeat units of song that last 2-20 min Song use: declare territory or lure females or both
Theory: song length shows males strength & Advertise mating ability Next winter: sing version of song from last season with modifications ( pick up from last year) Usually Stop singing after breeding

Complex social structure from solitary beaked whales - true oceanic dolphins pods Organization depends on where they live
Ex. River dolphin: single or small groups Near shore= small pods Oceanic= large schools (100s- 1000s) e.g. spinner and spotted dolphin

Many dolphin pods = females and their offspring Often both subadult males and females leave groups but females return when they bear 1st calf Males buddy up, and travel outside of female home range, joining females to mate

3 types of societies
1. Nuclear group- single adult males with females 2. Nursery groups- adult females and their young 3. Bachelor group variable # of adult and subadult males

Faroe Island Pilot Whales

Males in pods are not the fathers of pod calf's Males and females never leave mothers pod therefore 2 or more pods converge for brief matting's ( limits inbreeding ) Males are larger than females and have a more bulbous head

Faroe Island Pilot Whales

Post reproductive females that are still lactating Baby sitters
Pilot whales are deep feeders therefore they may be feeding calves that cant dive while mothers feed Only other group of whales that do this is the sperm whale Not all grandmothers lactate

Repository of cultural information e.g. locations of feeding grounds (long term memory of specific feeding grounds)

Sperm whales
Sexualy dimorphic, deep divers
Females: 40 ft Males: 60 ft and 3X the weight

Essentially a matriarchal system Nursery group or schools: stable groups of 1020 mothers, nursing young and immature calves of both sex (tropical and temperate)

Sperm whales
Mature males leave group and form Bachelor pods At 20-25 yrs males are solitary or in pairs In autumn fully grown males return to warmer waters to mate (move from one nursery group to another ~ 6hrs) Harem: Nursery schools with a visiting bull

Social Harmony ?
Care for injured pod members Most are aggressive at times: establish pecking order Scars on animals of all ages showing fights E.g. humpbacks: Males will often escort females that have recently given birth and may be ready to mate, and will fight off other males

Social Harmony ? beaked whales:

beaked whales: 19 sps ranging from 14-40 ft
Sexualydymorphic : males have pair of large teeth in lower jaw that erupt at puberty Males have scars Many males grow dense bones on their snout for protection during fights

Social Harmony ?
E.g. Narwhal :
Sexually dimorphic teeth: males have tusk ~ 9ft (upper left tooth) Observed tusk threats or fights with males Do NOT stab each other

Social Harmony ? Small toothed whales

Formal organization When on the move, small closely related groups will adopt geometric formation e.g. wedge shape with dominant animals in the lead and young protected at the center If an unknown is ahead, a dominant individual will investigate

Social Harmony ? Small toothed whales

Feeding is less formal Co-operative hunting and corralling prey E.g. killer whales = well organized hunting
Organize groups into respiratory units which ensure that no member is ever breathing alone Herding of salmon into tight ball and take turns feeding Tilt ice floe (seal) They appear to remain in contact with each other throughout the hunt

Maternal Behaviour
All cetaceans take great care of offspring Constant surveillance until weaning Nursemaids 3 examples of care behaviour
1. daisy formation to protect injured pod member 2.distress, it will place itself danger and/or push injured member away from danger 3. support so injured can breath