[MARMAM] New publication on nursing behavior of humpback whale calves on the Hawaiian breeding grounds

Kate Lomac-MacNair klomacmacnair at gmail.com
Tue Jul 18 13:26:32 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues, 


We are pleased to announce a new publication on nursing behavior of humpback
whale calves on the Hawaiian breeding grounds.

Zoidis, A.M.; Lomac-MacNair, K.S. A Note on Suckling Behavior and Laterality
in Nursing Humpback Whale Calves from Underwater Observations. Animals 2017,
7, 51.

Abstract: We investigated nursing behavior on the Hawaiian breeding grounds
for first year humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) calves. We observed
and video-documented underwater events with nursing behavior from five
different whale groups. The observed nursing events include behaviors where
a calf positions itself at a 30­45° angle to the midline of the mother¹s
body, with its mouth touching her mammary slit (i.e., suckling position). On
two occasions, milk in the water column was recorded in close proximity to a
mother/calf pair, and on one occasion, milk was recorded 2.5 min after
suckling observed. Nursing events, where the calf was located in the
suckling position, were found to be short in duration with a mean of 30.6 s
(range 15.0­55.0, standard deviation (SD) = 16.9). All observations of the
calf in the suckling position (n = 5, 100%) were with the calf located on
the right side of the mother, suggesting a potential for right side
laterality preference in the context of nursing behavior. Our study provides
insight into mother/calf behaviors from a unique underwater vantage. Results
supplement previous accounts of humpback whale nursing in Hawaiian waters,
validate mother/calf positioning, document milk in the water column, and
introduce the potential for laterality in nursing behavior for humpback
whale calves.


Our paper is available online at:

Or via e-mail request to Ann M. Zoidis <ann at cetosresearch.org>

Many Thanks, 
Ann Zoidis & Kate Lomac-MacNair

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