When it comes to making friends, it appears dolphins are just like us and form close friendships with other dolphins that have a common interest.
When it comes to making friends, it appears dolphins are just like us and form close friendships with other dolphins that have a common interest. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by an international team of researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Zurich and Western Australia, provides further insight into the social habits of these remarkable animals.
Shark Bay, a World Heritage area in Western Australia, is home to an iconic population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, and the only place where dolphins have been observed using marine sponges as foraging tools. This learnt technique, passed down from generation to generation, helps certain dolphins, "spongers", find food in deeper water channels. While the tool-using technique is well-studied in female dolphins, this study looked specifically at male dolphins.
Using behavioural, genetic and photographic data collected from 124 male dolphins during the winter months in Shark Bay over nine years [2007 to 2015], the team analysed a subset of 37 male dolphins, comprising 13 spongers and 24 non-spongers.
Read more at University of Bristol
Image: Bottlenose dolphin with a sponge in Shark Bay. CREDIT: Stephanie King