A Study focusing on 10 locations across the Arctic uncovers the role kinship plays in complex groupings and relationships of beluga whales. It is the first study to analyze the relationship between group behaviors, group type, group dynamics, and kinship of beluga whales.
Given their long 70 year lifespan and tendency to remain within their natal community, these findings reveal that beluga whales may form long-term affiliations with unrelated as well as related individuals.
Beluga whales don’t solely interact and associate with close kin. Across a wide variety of habitats and among both migratory and resident populations, they form communities of individuals of all ages and both sexes that commonly number in the hundreds and even thousands.
It may be that their highly developed vocal communication enables them to remain in regular acoustic contact with close relatives even when not associating together.
Results show that not only do beluga whales regularly interact with close kin, including close maternal kin, they also frequently associate with more distantly related and unrelated individuals. Findings will improve the understanding of why some species are social, how individuals learn from group members and how animal cultures emerge.
This new understanding of why individuals may form social groups, even with non-relatives, will hopefully promote new research on what constitutes species resilience and how species like the beluga whale can respond to emerging threats including climate change. It will improve our understanding of why some species are social, how individuals learn from group members and how animal cultures emerge.
Story Source: Materials provided by Florida Atlantic University. Original written by Gisele Galoustian. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.