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Laura Klappenbach

Pilot Whales Stay Together In Face of Danger

By November 29, 2012

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Scientists studying groups of pilot whales have discovered that the whales use synchronized swimming when they are in danger. Until now, little was known about the social structure of pilot whale groups. The study examined pilot whales in two locations, the Strait of Gibraltar (a narrow waterway that connects the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean Sea) and the coastal waters around Cape Breton, Canada.

The team conducting the study included scientists from the University of Aberdeen, the Doņana Biological Station, and the Conservation, Information and Study on Cetaceans group. Their aim was to gather information on the social system of pilot whales.

The study found that pilot whales in both locations form long-term groups, with members of a group remaining with that group for their entire life. The whales were also observed swimming in close synchrony when boats and other sea traffic were nearby. This behavior was present in pilot whales in both locations.

Photo © Jens Kuhfs / Getty Images.

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