Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pilot whales use synchronized swimming when they sense danger

Date:
November 23, 2012
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Scientists have observed the behavior of various groups of cetaceans including long-finned pilot whales in the Strait of Gibraltar and Cape Breton in Canada. These whales were found to use synchronized swimming when they identify the presence of an external threat.

Pilot whales use synchronized swimming when they identify the presence of an external threat.
Credit: Renaud de Stephanis

An international team of scientists have observed the behavior of various groups of cetaceans in the Strait of Gibraltar and Cape Breton in Canada belonging to the Globicephala melas species, which are also known as long-finned pilot whales. These results show that these whales use synchronized swimming when they identify the presence of an external threat.

There are 300 pilot whales inhabiting the Straight of Gibraltar. Here these cetaceans remain throughout the entire year in the water of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. But, little is known about their social structure.

Headed by the University of Aberdeen (United Kingdom) in collaboration with the Doρana Biological Station (CSIC) and Conservation, Information and Study on Cetaceans (CIRCE) group, the study analyzed the patterns of association between individuals within this whale community. The aim was to provide a long-term vision of their social system.

"The important point is that we compared two different populations: one inhabiting the Strait of Gibraltar which is exposed to predators (boats in this case) and another with an ecotype where there are not so many boats (Cape Breton in Canada). The pilot whales are social species and we were interested in seeing how mothers teach their young, for example. We observed that they use synchronized swimming when in danger," as explained Renaud de Stephanis, researcher of the Biological Station of Doρana and coauthor of the study published in the journal behavioral Processes.

Between 1999 and 2006 the scientists gathered samples in an area of 23,004 km in the Strait of Gibraltar and took 4,887 images of the dorsal fins of whales to compare them with those in Canada.

"They swim in complete synchrony both in the Strait of Gibraltar and Canada. When sea traffic or whale watching vessels are nearby, the whole group collectively reacts to such external stimuli. When we arrived at the watching area they were swimming at their normal rhythm but after 10 or 15 minutes near to them, the mothers and their young began to swim in a synchronized manner in alert position. This is a sign of affiliation to the group," adds the expert.

According to the researcher, these cetaceans also have a social structure formed by permanent partnerships. This means that they spend their life with the same whales and they do not interchange between different groups, as in the case of bottlenose dolphins.

Thanks to the study we now know that the presence of vessels also disturbs diving behavior. "As such, when we began observing the whales up close, they tended to spend quite some time on the surface. However, the longer we spent nearby, the longer they stayed under water. This behavioral change could affect their energy levels, since they then have to make more of an effort to protect themselves and their young. In turn this limits hunting time, which means that they cannot feed their young properly," concludes the researcher.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Valeria Senigaglia, Renaud de Stephanis, Phillippe Verborgh, David Lusseau. The role of synchronized swimming as affiliative and anti-predatory behavior in long-finned pilot whales. Behavioural Processes, 2012; 91 (1): 8 DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.04.011

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Pilot whales use synchronized swimming when they sense danger." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121123092740.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2012, November 23). Pilot whales use synchronized swimming when they sense danger. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121123092740.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Pilot whales use synchronized swimming when they sense danger." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121123092740.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) — West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins