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Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...

Whales and dolphins have flippin’ awesome support bubbles

Friends and family all get involved in bringing up the younger generation of whales and dolphins.

Losing the childcare provided by our extended families, childminders, nurseries and schools has put pressure on many families. We rely on these support networks to take care of our young while we do what we need to do to provide food and security, and socialise. Looking after children that aren’t our own is common in human society, but is not the case for most species. Whales and dolphins are, however, an exception.

Pod of dolphins in Moray Firth

Whales and dolphins are amazing - your donation will help us keep them safe.

Pilot whales - community living

It takes a village to raise a pilot whale. They live in multi-generational families of 24 to 48 whales and calves regularly swim with male and female adults, other than their parents. This shared parenting is a sign of a very tightly bonded society. It might be that by spending time with different adults, the youngsters are learning how to behave within their community.

It takes a village to raise a pilot whale © Andrew Sutton
It takes a village to raise a pilot whale © Andrew Sutton

Sperm whale babysitters

These deep divers operate a kind of babysitting circle, taking it in turns to look after the young whales while the rest of the group is hunting in the depths. Female sperm whales will even suckle babies who are not their own, leaving Mum free to forage. A group that protects each other’s young will grow bigger meaning more whales to look out for orcas.

Orcas - family is everything

Granny plays a vital role in orca society. Orcas are one of only five species known to go through the menopause (the others being belugas, narwhals, short-finned pilot whales and humans). Orcas experience menopause at around 45 and can live to 90 so once they are no longer able to have babies, they have a lot of life left to pass on knowledge and help look after the younger generations. While Mum is diving for food, baby stays at the surface where Granny can babysit. Research has revealed that an orca calf will be four times more likely to die within the next two years if their grandmother has died.

Group of orcas off Kamchatka, Russia
Orca group © FEROP

Dolphin day care

Dolphins babysit for each other. Male dolphins have been seen overseeing groups of juvenile dolphins and older brothers and sisters will take care of their siblings - we think this might be a way of teaching them to be parents. Baby dolphins have been seen interacting with other youngsters in ‘playpens’ created by a ring of protective adults. Dolphins will even babysit dolphins of another species. In the Bahamas, female spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins hang out together and even look after each other’s kids.

The more I learn about whales and dolphins, the more in awe of them I become and the more determined to protect them. Thank you for your support.

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