Rare mixed-species associations between sperm whales and Risso's and northern right whale dolphins off the southern California Bight: Kleptoparasitism and social parasitism?

  • Smultea M
  • Bacon C
  • Lomac-macnair K
 et al. 
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Inter-specific behavioral interactions between large whales and small odontocetes are rarely described and little understood. Reasons for such associations have been proposed but are difficult to substantiate empirically given the challenges inherent with studying deep- and long-diving cetaceans at sea. Proposed reasons include some of those described for schooling fish, birds, ungulates, and primates, such as reduced predation through the dilution or predator startle effect, competition for resources, aggression, kleptoparasitism, social parasitism, and play and sociality (Norris and Prescott 1961; Fritz and De Garine-Wichatitsky 1996; Weller and others 1996; Clua and Grosvalet 2001; Cameron and Du Toit 2005; Cords and Wu¨ rsig 2014). Herein, we describe the first published social interactions of Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus), Risso’s Dolphins (Grampus griseus), and Northern Right Whale Dolphins (Lissodelphis borealis) as photo- and video-documented off southern California in spring 2011.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Risso's dolphin
  • Southern California Bight
  • aerial survey
  • dolphin
  • grampus griseus
  • kleptoparasitism
  • lissodelphis borealis
  • mixed-species association
  • northern right whale
  • physeter macrocephalus
  • social parasitism
  • southern California
  • sperm whale

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  • Mari A Smultea

  • Cathy E Bacon

  • Kate Lomac-macnair

  • Fleur Visser

  • Jessica Bredvik

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