FLIPPER RUBBING BEHAVIORS IN WILD BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (TURSIOPS ADUNCUS)

Authors

  • Mai Sakai,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1-W3-43, Ookayama, Meguro-Ku, Tokyo 152-8551, Japan E-mail: msakai@bio.titech.ac.jp
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  • Toru Hishii,

    1. Mikura-jima Iruka Kyoukai, Mikura Island, Tokyo 100-1301, Japan
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  • Shohei Takeda,

    1. Department of Comparative Psychology, Division of Humane & Social Studies for Man-Nature Relations, Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, 3-5-8, Saiwai-cho, Fuchuu-city, Tokyo 183-8509, Japan
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  • Shiro Kohshima

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1-W3-43, Ookayama, Meguro-Ku, Tokyo 152-8551, Japan
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Abstract

“Flipper rubbing” behavior was quantitatively analyzed in wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) around Mikura Island, Tokyo, Japan. We observed two types of flipper rubbing: (1) F-B rubbing; one dolphin (Rubber) rubbed its flipper over various parts of a partner's (Rubbee) body, and (2) F-F rubbing; both dolphins rubbed each other's anterior flipper edge in alternating shifts. F-B rubbings tended to be initiated by the Rubbee and were terminated by the Rubber. The Rubbee often moved actively its body part that was in contact with the Rubber's flipper, and assumed side-up, upside-down, or other postures while the Rubber remained horizontal in most cases. These facts suggest that the Rubbee engaged in F-B rubbing more actively than the Rubber, and might receive some benefit from the frictional contact during F-B rubbing. Dolphins often switched their roles as Rubber and Rubbee between episodes of flipper rubbing bout. Adults and sub-adults exchanged F-B rubbing and F-F rubbing most often with individuals of the same sex in the same age class. F-B rubbing was frequent in mother-and-calf dyads. Our results suggest that flipper rubbing is an affiliative behavior which could be a quantitative measure of social relationships among individuals of this species in future studies.

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