SURVIVORSHIP PATTERNS IN THREE SPECIES OF CAPTIVE CETACEANS

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Abstract

Survival rates for three species of captive cetaceans are reported, based on records of dates of capture, birth, and death of individual animals. The annual survival rate was 0.93 for bottlenose dolphins and killer whales and 0.94 for white whales. Confidence limits of these estimates are discussed. Differences in survival rates between institutions were significant for bottlenose dolphins only. Calf survival for bottlenose dolphins was lower than non-calf survival. Survivorship of male killer whales was significantly less than survivorship of female killer whales; sex-specific survival rates were similar for the other two species. Estimates of average or maximum longevity alone were not useful in comparing rates of survival. Because survival in the first year of captivity may be lower than subsequent years, estimates of the expected lifespan, based on data from the first few years of captivity, may be biased.

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