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Uncovering the dark side of captivity

Last week we launched our major new campaign to reveal and uncover the dark side...
Bottlenose dolphins © Christopher Swann

On the anniversary of the massacre of 1,423 dolphins, what’s changed?

One year ago today, 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, including mothers with calves and pregnant females,...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
A dolphin plays in front of the WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay

Sharing our Spey Bay stories – tell us yours

2022 is Scotland's Year of Stories, a year in which stories inspired by, created or...
Orcas in Australia

Did orcas help rescue entangled humpback whale?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
An orca named 'Hulk' off Caithness, Scotland

My amazing week watching orcas in Scotland

Orca Watch's 10th anniversary event in the far north of Scotland was exhilarating with a...

Faroes dolphin hunt review – disappointing is an understatement

I wasn't alone in hoping that substantial changes would be made as a result of...
Minke whale - V Mignon

We told them this would happen! Time to halt cruel whale experiments

An ill-conceived and so far ill-fated joint US/ Norwegian experiment to test minke whales' reaction...

Whales and dolphins have flippin’ awesome support bubbles

Friends and family all get involved in bringing up the younger generation of whales and dolphins.

Losing the childcare provided by our extended families, childminders, nurseries and schools has put pressure on many families. We rely on these support networks to take care of our young while we do what we need to do to provide food and security, and socialise. Looking after children that aren’t our own is common in human society, but is not the case for most species. Whales and dolphins are, however, an exception.

Pod of dolphins in Moray Firth

Whales and dolphins are amazing - your donation will help us keep them safe.

Pilot whales - community living

It takes a village to raise a pilot whale. They live in multi-generational families of 24 to 48 whales and calves regularly swim with male and female adults, other than their parents. This shared parenting is a sign of a very tightly bonded society. It might be that by spending time with different adults, the youngsters are learning how to behave within their community.

It takes a village to raise a pilot whale © Andrew Sutton
It takes a village to raise a pilot whale © Andrew Sutton

Sperm whale babysitters

These deep divers operate a kind of babysitting circle, taking it in turns to look after the young whales while the rest of the group is hunting in the depths. Female sperm whales will even suckle babies who are not their own, leaving Mum free to forage. A group that protects each other’s young will grow bigger meaning more whales to look out for orcas.

Orcas - family is everything

Granny plays a vital role in orca society. Orcas are one of only five species known to go through the menopause (the others being belugas, narwhals, short-finned pilot whales and humans). Orcas experience menopause at around 45 and can live to 90 so once they are no longer able to have babies, they have a lot of life left to pass on knowledge and help look after the younger generations. While Mum is diving for food, baby stays at the surface where Granny can babysit. Research has revealed that an orca calf will be four times more likely to die within the next two years if their grandmother has died.

 

Group of orcas off Kamchatka, Russia
Orca group © FEROP

Dolphin day care

Dolphins babysit for each other. Male dolphins have been seen overseeing groups of juvenile dolphins and older brothers and sisters will take care of their siblings - we think this might be a way of teaching them to be parents. Baby dolphins have been seen interacting with other youngsters in ‘playpens’ created by a ring of protective adults. Dolphins will even babysit dolphins of another species. In the Bahamas, female spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins hang out together and even look after each other’s kids.

The more I learn about whales and dolphins, the more in awe of them I become and the more determined to protect them. Thank you for your support.

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About Julia Pix

Communications manager - Public Engagement

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