15.01.2021 – Watch & learn
Social learning is the foundation of culture amongst us humans and also plays an extremely crucial role in cetacean societies. Learning from peers can help individuals, particularly younger animals, improve social- as well as hunting skills amongst other things and thereby helps improve resilience and ensure survival. Social learning also fuels unity within a group of individuals which helps them gain advantages on many levels since they face all challenges as a unit.
Today our traditional boat cruised around 5 nautical miles out to sea to enjoy sightings with several small groups of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). The small units were dispersed over a 2 nautical mile radius and, while several of the animals got curious and approached the bow of the Ribeira Brava, the clear objective of the morning seemed to be catching some Garfish (Belone belone). Common dolphins use coordinated hunting strategies to gather and drive their prey together at the surface before accelerating and leaping through the terrified school of fish, exposing their gorgeous flank pattern as they breach high above the surface.
Amongst the small units was a group containing little calves, who soon joined their older peers in the pursuit for the Garfish. While the adults helped gather the fish near the surface the young animals dashed through the centre to try and snatch a fish of their own. Witnessing such vital learning processes first-hand is truly a humbling experience and both crew and guests enjoyed this absolute spectacle of a hunting class..
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Short-beaked common dolphins