Sperm Whales Adopt Disabled Dolphin

Sperm Whales Adopt Disabled Dolphin

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In an upcoming paper for the journal Aquatic Mammals, a pair of scientists detail a series of interactions between an adult bottlenose dolphin with scoliosis and a group of sperm whales in the Azores. The scientists describe their research as the first time sperm whales have been observed interacting in a non-aggressive way with a member of a different species. In other words: They repeatedly spotted a dolphin with a messed up back hanging out with a group of sperm whales.

The paper’s authors write that the whales treated the dolphin as a “conspecific” – a member of the same species – “at times both permitting and initiating physical contact.” They also say that the interactions went beyond “simple tolerance.”

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