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July 10, 2020 - Phys.org

Like humans, beluga whales form social networks beyond family ties

Like humans, beluga whales form social networks beyond family ties
Pod of belugasFile Photo / © Photabulous!

A groundbreaking study using molecular genetic techniques and field studies brings together decades of research into the complex relationships among beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) that spans 10 locations across the Arctic from Alaska to Canada and Russia to Norway.

The behavior of these highly gregarious whales, which include sophisticated vocal repertoires, suggest that this marine mammal lives in complex societies. Like killer whales (Orcinus orca) and African elephants (Loxodonta Africana), belugas were thought to form social bonds around females that primarily comprise closely related individuals from the same maternal lineage. However, this hypothesis had not been formally tested.

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