Just like humans, male dolphins have been shown to form long-lasting bonds and These ties are formed with those who have similar interests or traits.
It is well known that dolphins live in social groupings, known as pods, and carry out quite complex social interactions. However, this study is another indication of the level of intelligence they possess.
The international group of scientists from Australia, Switzerland and the UK studied dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia. The particular pod of bottlenose dolphins has been observed before and it was discovered that the female pod members had developed a unique method of foraging using marine sponges in order to find food.
This behavior, known as sponging, has not been seen outside this group and has been passed down from mother to calf.
The scientists wanted to return to Shark Bay to look specifically at the behavior of the males in the group and studied 124 male bottlenose dolphins in their study which lasted from 2007 to 2015.
They found that some males used the sponging technique while others did not but those that did tend to associate with other sponging males. They also spent more time foraging than the other males and less time sleeping.
It seems that, like the female dolphins, the males have formed social bonds based on the shared activity of sponging.
Another finding of the study is that the social alliances play a key role in the males’ mating success and that the bonds formed indicate, not only that the males can form social bonds based on similar traits, but also that these bonds can last for decades.