Abstract: The frequency of contact in the development and maintenance of beluga calf social bonds was examined using video footage collected between 2007 to 2012 for five mother–calf pairs in managed care. Mothers and calves spent ~48% of their time together over a 2-y period, and calves initiated ~45% of their shared social interactions during their time together. Across both years, calves initiated 98% of contact events with their mothers and were in contact over 30% of their time together (i.e., 1.6 contact events/min during an interaction). Contact between calves occurred ~9% of calf–calf time, which was very similar to the time calves spent in affiliative interactions with their mothers outside of mother–calf swims. These results indicate that contact may be particularly important to the development and maintenance of mother–calf bonds and calf–calf bonds during a beluga’s first 2 y of life.
Key Words: beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, bonding, contact, social interactions, calf, tactile interactions, white whale
Document Type: Research Article
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.44.1.2018.62
Page Numbers: 62-75

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