[MARMAM] Pilot whale carrying a dead conspecific

Fabian Ritter, MEER e.V. ritter at m-e-e-r.de
Mon Sep 30 05:39:16 PDT 2013

Dear fellow MARMAMers!

We would like to inform you about an interesting observation we made 
last August off La Gomera (Canary Islands, Spain). During a short 
encounter with short-finned pilot whales (Gl. macrorhynchus) we observed 
an adult animal carrying what appeared to be a dead juvenile (judged 
from the relative size of adult and the dead animal). A more detailed 
description of this sighting and some images can be seen at the 
following website:

While supporting behaviour has been observed many times in the past, 
this type of behaviour mostly is directed towards dead cetacean calves, 
rather than older conspecifics, the latter having been documented only 
very rarely (some references are given below).

We hence would like to know if someone has made similar observations 
before, either with pilot whales or other cetacean species.
We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Best greetings to all of you,
Fabian Ritter

_Some references on epimeletic/supporting behaviour in cetaceans:_

Caldwell, M.C. and D.K. Caldwell. 1966. Epimeletic (care-giving) 
behavior in Cetacea. In: K.S. Norris (ed.): Whales, Dolphins and 
Propoises. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Cockcroft, V.G. and W. Sauer. 1990. Observed and inferred epimeletic 
(nurturant) behaviour in bottlenose dolphins. Aquatic Mammals 16.1, 31-32.

Harzen, S. and M.E. Dos Santos. 1992. Three encounters with wild 
bottlenose dolphins (_Tursiops truncatus_) carrying dead calves. Aquatic 
Mammals 18.2, 49-55.

Fertl, D. and A. Schiro. 1994. Carrying of dead calves by free-ranging 
Texas bottlenose dolphins (_Tursiops truncatus_). Aquatic Mammals 20.1, 

Lodi, L. 1992. Epimeletic behavior of free-ranging rough-toothed 
dolphins, _Steno bredanensis_, from Brazil. Marine Mammal Science 8, 

DEAD NEWBORN CALF.**Marine Mammal Science, 23(2): 429-433

Fulgencio de Moura, da Silva Rodrigues and Salvatore Siciliano, 2008. 
Epimeletic behaviour  in  rough-toothed  dolphins  (Steno  bredanensis) 
on the east coast of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. JMBA2 - Biodiversity 


Fabian Ritter

M.E.E.R. e.V.
Bundesallee 123
D-12161 Berlin

T/F: (0)30-644 97 230
e-Mail:ritter at m-e-e-r.de


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