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Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

A story about whales and humans

As well as working for WDC, I write books for young people. Stories; about the...
Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

Everything we learn about the Risso's dolphins off the coast of Scotland amazes us and...
Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whale (balaenoptera physalus) Three fin whales Gulf of California.

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...

Dolphin social networks are unusually open

In March 2012 the New Scientist reported on research in Shark Bay Western Australia which shows that male bottlenose dolphins in this area cooperate in groups of two or three. These smaller groups also link with others to form ‘gangs’ of up to 14 males and these ‘gangs’ can sometimes also coalesce to form even larger groupings.

With some exceptions, terrestrial mammals tend to live in more closed social groupings that occasionally accept new members emigrating in from other coalitions. What is curious about this research is that usually such complex alliances are believed to enable males to control particular territory or mates. However, Richard Connor and colleagues tracked 120 male bottlenose dolphins and found no evidence that these groups were formed for these reasons. Connor concludes that these findings suggest that the social networks of these dolphins  is ‘unusually open’ and may be related to the relatively low energy costs associated with travel for these dolphins.

The abstract for the original research can be downloaded here.