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Grey whale eye

Animal culture crucial for conservation says new research paper

WDC's Philippa Brakes, together with a number of experts working on a wide range of...

EU scientific body confirms stronger measures are needed to protect dolphins and porpoises from death in nets

The expert body that provides scientific advice to the European Commission on the management of...
A magical sperm whale encounter

Can space technology tell us how many whales there are?

This exciting project is part of Deloitte's Gravity Challenge, a global programme that encourages corporates,...
minke whale breaching

Norway urged to abandon plans to experiment on captured whales

WDC has teamed up with the Animal Welfare Institute and NOAH (Norway's largest NGO for...

Research reveals pilot whales babysit young of other whales

A new report in Marine Mammal Science on the findings of a study of pilot whales off Nova Scotia, Canada, has shown that adult whales in the population look after the young of unrelated other whales. While this type of babysitting, know as “alloparental care”, has been observed in other social mammals, it is the first time it has been studied in pilot whales.

The whales have been observed from whale-watching boats since 1998 and using various techniques, including photo-identification, the researchers were able to record how calves would interact with different adult whales. Alloparenting was considered to be taking place when the whales were seen with at least one whale other than its mother. In some years, the activity was recorded in over 80% of calves, with both male and female whales taking part in the caring. Several other species of whales and dolphins that live in social groups, such as sperm whales, orcas and bottlenose dolphins also take part in similar activities.

Characterizing alloparental care in the pilot whale (Globicephala melas) population that summers off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada
Authors: Joana F. Augusto, Timothy R. Frasier, Hal Whitehead
Marine Mammal Science 
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12377/full

George Berry

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.