[MARMAM] New Publication: Socio-sexual and Probable Mating Behavior of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales, Delphinapterus leucas, Observed From an Aircraft

Kate Lomac-MacNair klomacmacnair at gmail.com
Thu Jun 30 17:32:32 PDT 2016

Dear colleagues, 

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new paper:

Lomac-MacNair, K.S., Smultea, M. A., Cotter, M. P., Thissen, C., Parker, L.
(2016). Socio-sexual and Probable Mating Behavior of Cook Inlet Beluga
Whales, Delphinapterus leucas, Observed From an Aircraft. Marine Fisheries
Review 77(2), 32-39. doi: dx.doi.org/10.7755/MFR.77.2.2

Socio-sexual and mating behaviors, to our knowledge, have not been
previously documented among free-ranging beluga whales, Delphinapterus
leucas, but they have been described in detail for captive belugas. We
report on the fi rst photodocumented interaction and display of socio-sexual
and apparent mating behavior of noncaptive beluga whales in Cook Inlet,
Alaska. This behavior was seen on two different days in the same river mouth
in uncharacteristically clear waters of upper Cook Inlet. On 24 April 2014,
social and possible mating behaviors were observed and photographed for
approximately 12 min within a group of nine adult beluga whales in the mouth
of Middle River on the west central side of Cook Inlet. A total of 136
photographs were taken at a radial distance > 500 m. On 7 May 2014, similar
behaviors were observed among four adult beluga whales in the same location
for about 7 min. The second group was not photo-documented due to flight
limitations. In both circumstances, affiliative behavioral events such as
echelon and contact swimming, and socio-sexual behaviors such as
ventrum-to-ventrum contact, ventral presentations, pelvic thrusting,
nodding, and rubbing were observed. These behaviors resemble those
previously reported for captive beluga mating behaviors and copulation.
Similarities between these observations with captive mating behaviors, and
the timing of ovulation and peak calving periods from other wild beluga
populations, provide strong evidence that mating occurs during early spring
months in Cook Inlet.

Our paper is available online at:

Or via e-mail request to kate at smulteasciences.com


Kate Lomac-MacNair
COO/Senior Research Scientist
Smultea Environmental Sciences
kate at smulteasciences.com

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