See, Whales do care

Credit: Alexander D. M. Wilson / Aquatic Mammals

Credit: Alexander D. M. Wilson / Aquatic Mammals

AAAS reports

Sperm whales are fierce squid hunters, but they also have a softer side. In a serendipitous sighting in the North Atlantic, researchers have discovered a group of the cetaceans that seem to have taken in an adult bottlenose dolphin with a spinal malformation.

There you go:  Fierce hunters with a softer side.  Even scientist says so.


Credit: Alexander D. M. Wilson / Aquatic Mammals

Laura T. Coffey at Today comments

If the ocean were a cocktail party, your average bottlenose dolphin would be hamming it up near the bar, fetching drinks for other marine mammals and regaling them with funny stories. Your average sperm whale would hover quietly near the pretzel bowl, keeping a low profile and avoiding eye contact with that obnoxious dolphin.

The usual aloofness between the two animals explains why researchers were astonished to stumble upon a most unusual sighting near the Azores in the North Atlantic Ocean: a pod of sperm whales that appeared to have accepted a lone bottlenose dolphin calf into their group.

Over a period of eight days in 2011, researchers saw the dolphin and the sperm whales traveling together, nuzzling and generally having a grand time. The dolphin calf had a rare spinal curvature — a deformity that may have made the animal unable to keep up with its own kind.

I guess to the whales, the dolphin looks like a hump back…


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