In the short time I’ve been volunteering for the Cape lookout Studies Program, I’ve learned a lot about how our local dolphins behave in ways that are not consistent throughout the world. While researchers are still learning the “whys” for these differences – it’s seems clear to me that cetaceans around the world have developed some interesting behavioral differences in different parts of the world. For example, some bottlenose dolphins chase fish up on shore, and others stir up mud to corral fish and then feed as their prey try to jump out of the nets.
Sri Lanka’s Unorthodox Whales
Which brings us to the blue whales in the Indian Ocean off the southern coast of Sri Lanka. They don’t follow the migration patterns observed in most blue whale populations. Researcher Asha De Vos is trying to learn more about this whale population and also to find better ways to conserve these animals as they coexist with an extremely busy shipping lane. Check out her efforts on her blog: The Unorthodox Whale and her op-ed piece written for CNN.
Dolphin smiles and playful jumps
It’s tempting to refer to dolphin “smiles” because their mouths turn up at the ends. The truth is their mouths are always like this. When our local marine mammal stranding network responds to a stranded dolphin their mouths look just the same as they do when they’re bow riding or spyhopping to check out a research vessel. Human mouths help to express emotions, cetacean mouths do not. As I blog about the work of Keith and the other local researchers, they are always quick to correct my assumptions. Do dolphins jump when they’re feeling playful? Probably, but they might also jump for other social reasons, to dislodge parasites, to hunt, to avoid predators, or a number of other reasons. I’ve found that understanding dolphin behavior and learning how much we don’t understand only serves to enhance my fascination. I am still in awe every time I see a dolphin fly out of the water – even if I don’t know why; and I am intrigued all the more when I read about the work being done by cetacean researchers like Asha De Vos in Sri Lanka.
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