whales social behavior

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Thu Feb 22 2001 - 01:51:23 EST

>could you tell me the general social behaviour of whales or if not direct me
>towards web sites and papers that can thanks

There are nearly 80 species in the order of whales, Cetacea. The social
behavior ranges from largely solitary animals (minke whales) to very
gregarious herds of thousands of dolphins. In the mix are complex social
structures (sperm whales and orcas) and opportunistic "gams" (right

There is a very general split between the mysticetes and odontocetes.
Mysticetes tend to be less social, particularly in the rorquals (other than
humpbacks). Humpbacks are known to engage in what seems to be a cooperative
feeding strategy called group lunge feeding in Alaska involving repeated
associations of known individuals, though this is not always the case.
Odontocetes tend to have more structured social orders that involves for
some very stable family groups over long periods of time.

So your question is rather complex and far reaching. There are many papers
on the subject for each of the various species, especially for the widely
studied species such as orcas and humpback whales. There is a book called
'Cetacean Behavior'. A look on the Society for Marine Mammalogy web site at
the journal index page may direct you to a number of recent academic papers
on social behavior of particular whales.

I hope this helps.


Pieter Folkens

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