[MARMAM] New publication: boto and pilot whale behaviors during close encounters with human feeders and swimmers

michaelscheer at t-online.de michaelscheer at t-online.de
Tue May 27 07:53:25 PDT 2014

Dear MARMAM subscribers,

on behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce the publication of a new book chapter:

Scheer, M., Alves, L. C. Pinto de Sá, Ritter, F., Azevedo, A. de Freitas & Andriolo, A. (2014) Behaviors of botos and short-finned pilot whales during close encounters with humans: management implications derived from ethograms for food-provisioned versus unhabituated cetaceans. In J.B. Samuels (Ed.) Dolphins: Ecology, Behavior and Conservation Strategies (pp. 1-36). New York, U.S.A.: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

The chapter is available as an ebook version online at:

Or please contact me at michaelscheer at t-online.de to receive a pdf.

Wildlife encounters of humans diving, swimming and wading in the vicinity of cetaceans in open water environments have increased worldwide. At the same time, the quality and quantity of close-up or interactive cetacean behaviors addressed towards humans appear to vary widely. In the past, free-ranging cetaceans were reported to avoid, affiliatively or aggressively interact with, injure or even kill humans. Indirect effects compromising the health status of target species such as entanglements, boat strikes or alterations of behavior have been reported as negative by-products. From the management perspective, encounters have to be regulated in order to reduce the likelihood of detrimental outcomes for both sides. It has been proposed to conduct studies on the quality of behavioral interactions to enable a comparison between species and locations, as well as to conduct research before commercial programs are implemented. However, self-initiated cetacean behaviors addressed towards huma
 ns still have received little attention, hence their structure and function largely remain unclear. This study compares self-initated behaviors addressed towards human feeders and swimmers as well as intraspecific behaviors adressed towards cetacean conspecifics during encounters with food-provisioned Amazon botos (Inia geoffrensis ) and unhabituated short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus ) in the Canary Islands. Encounters with botos were observed for a total of 18 h 30 min in Novo Airão city, Amazonas State (Brazil), during two field seasons in 2008 and 2009. Short-finned pilot whales were observed 9 h 06 min off Tenerife and La Gomera (Spain) during three field seasons in 1996, 2001 and 2012. For the first time, an á priori ethogram on interand intraspecific behaviors was used in each location and for each species to enable a comparison. During the majority of encounters (71%), short-finned pilot whales addressed affiliative behaviors towards swimmers. Neutral or
  avoidance behavior was shown during 29% of encounters. Intraspecific agonistic behaviors were rare. In contrast, botos did not show avoidance reactions to human feeders but were permanently attracted to them. During 36% of encounters, botos initiated affiliative behaviors. However, risky behaviors occurred during all encounters and botos also showed agonistic behaviors towards conspecifics. Nearly all risky interspecific behaviors remained constant or increased and all agonistic intraspecific behaviors increased from 2008 to 2009. Thus, humans continually were exposed to health risks. Food-provisioning of botos is now being managed aiming to reduce risky interactions. Swim programs seem to be the more preferable form to closely encounter cetaceans in the wild. However, it remains unclear how unhabituated animals would react when being exposed to repeated swim activities. Thus, we recommend that close interactions between humans and cetaceans -be it feeding or swimming- should be ge
 nerally discouraged. Where such interactions with tourists take place, they have to be regulated ideally from the very beginning. Our results can be used as referential data before initiating new interactive programs.

Kind regards

Michael Scheer, Dipl. Biol.
Brunnenstr. 15-16
28203 Bremen

T +49 - (0)421 - 731 87
F +49 - (0)421 - 764 82
M +49 - (0)173 - 238 61 56

mscheer at uni-bremen.de

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