A new study published in the Journal Marine Mammal Research reveals that dolphins are even more similar to humans than it was originally thought. These wonderful creatures have always intrigued scientists, inciting curiosity regarding the way they interact with each other and the way they create their own circle of friends.
The study , led by researchers from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, included research biologist Elizabeth Murdoch Titcomb, associate research professor Greg O’Corry-Crowe, PhD and senior research associate Marilyn Mazzoil.
Its aim was to examine the behavior of the bottlenose dolphins living in the Indian River Lagoon, which is 251 km long and up to 9 km wide and 4 m deep. Due to its biodiversity, this lagoon was regarded as an ‘estuary of national significance’ by the American Environmental protection Agency.
While the fact that dolphins are social animals is not new, the scientists analyzed how 200 dolphins connected to one another, chose their habitat, moved and behaved in the presence of their peers. It was a complex research, that was carried out for more than six years and it involved operating surveys of intensive photo-IDs.
Their findings were quite surprising, showing that, just like humans, these dolphins preferred to interact with certain groups and avoided others. Some of them even had their own group of animals that they chose to hang out with and picked their favorite places to do that.
Research biologist Elizabeth Murdoch Titcomb, from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University stated that among the most surprising discoveries was the fact that the characteristics and the size of the habitat had a great influence on the dolphins’ behavior:
” the physical dimensions of the habitat, the long, narrow lagoon system itself, influenced the spatial and temporal dynamics of dolphin association patterns,” she said in a press release.
Thus, the groups that inhabited the narrowest areas of the lagoon also had the smallest groups of animals to interact with. One cannot help but think about communities of people – the smaller the town, the fewer people there are to interact with. Moreover, just like us, dolphins display fondness or aversion towards other animals they interact with on a regular base.
This information might prove very useful for further research into the lives of dolphins. Therefore, it represents a base for scientists who are planning to look deeper into their breeding behavior, the spread of disease and the way they use the environment to share information within the dolphin population.
Image Source: animalfactguide