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Behavior of short-finned pilot whales


As air-breathing marine mammals, short-finned pilot whales have to regularly sojourn at the water surface ( Nevertheless, most of their time the whales spent beneath the surface ( As for all marine mammals species, it is a tremendous challenge to study the behavior of free-ranging whales and dolphins in their natural habitats. Boat-based studies restrict detailed observations under the water surface. And underwater observations are difficult to conduct because the whales have to tolerate the observer within visual contact (which is mostly less than 20m), and most of time the whale's swimming speed is too intense for an observer to follow.


Click to see a pilot whale
subgroup slowly traveling along the
coastline (.mov file with 6.7 MB).

Foto Behavior consists of a continous stream of movements and events. In order to describe this stream, researchers categorize behavior in describable units such as behavioral states and behavioral units. Behavioral units occur in the context of behavioral states. E.g. during traveling behavior an animal slaps with its tail on the water surface. Next to these behaviors occuring at the water surface, own research revealed a variety of behaviors occuring underwater (