Animal Cognition

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 1153–1160 | Cite as

A beluga whale socialized with bottlenose dolphins imitates their whistles

Short Communication

Abstract

The research on imitation in the animal kingdom has more than a century-long history. A specific kind of imitation, auditory–vocal imitation, is well known in birds, especially among songbirds and parrots, but data for mammals are limited to elephants, marine mammals, and humans. Cetaceans are reported to imitate various signals, including species–specific calls, artificial sounds, and even vocalizations from other species if they share the same habitat. Here we describe the changes in the vocal repertoire of a beluga whale that was housed with a group of bottlenose dolphins. Two months after the beluga’s introduction into a new facility, we found that it began to imitate whistles of the dolphins, whereas one type of its own calls seemed to disappear. The case reported here may be considered as an interesting phenomenon of vocal accommodation to new social companions and cross-species socialization in cetaceans.

Keywords

Beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus Vocal imitation Vocal convergence 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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