22 January 2012

Whales give dolphins a lift

In 2010, the journal Aquatic Mammals (DOI: 10.1578/AM.36.2.2010.121) reported about interactions between dolphins and whales. Abstract
Two Unusual Interactions Between a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and a Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Hawaiian Waters

Mark H. Deakos, Brian K. Branstetter, Lori Mazzuca, Dagmar Fertl, and Joseph R. Mobley, Jr.

When two species share a common habitat, interspecific interactions can take many forms. Understanding the dynamics of these interactions can provide insight into the behavior and ecology of those species involved. Two separate, unusual interactions are described in which a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) lifted a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) completely out of the water. Both incidents occurred in Hawaiian waters. Based on reports of object play by hump-back whales, and the apparent initiation and cooperation of each dolphin being lifted, object (i.e., the dolphin) play by the whale and social play by the dolphin seem to be the most plausible explanations for the interaction. Aggressive and epimeletic behavior by the humpback were also considered.
Recently (10 January 2012), the American Museum of Natural History released photos of such an interaction



Was this a case of inter-species play or had one species 'domesticated' the other?

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