Scientists capture first ever video of Orcas gently kissing and biting each others tongues in a display of affection after resolving a fight
- Orcas were seen touching and biting tongues in a recent behavioral study
- The interaction may be a type of reconciliation after a fight
- Making up after a tiff is an important interaction for whales who are highly social
- Research may help make captive whales’ lives better
If a recently released video is any indication, a type of kissing may be among the complex social traits shared between whales and humans.
In a study published this month, two Orcas whales in Loro Parque Zoo in Spain were observed in a never-before-seen behavior that scientists think may be a type of reconciliation following a fight.
A video captured at the zoo shows one of the giant creatures as it uses its tongue to gently graze and nibble on the tongue of another Orca.
A new type of behavior may be one way that whales make amends after a fight according to researchers.
As a group of researchers who published an article in Zoo Biology put it, ‘we documented the pattern ‘gentle tongue bite,’ where an animal touches the other’s tongue with his teeth but does not bite it.’
The behavior is part of an array of social interactions observed by researchers throughout more than 100 hours of recordings.
In addition to being unprecedented, the behavioral discovery also helps to illuminate important methods of conflict dispute between the whales who are among the most social adept creatures on Earth.
According to researchers, who spoke to Yahoo news about their discoveries, while aggressive behaviors or fights constitute a small portion of the animals’ overall interactions — about 1 percent according to them — fights, like in any social setting, can crop up.
In some cases, those tiffs can include jostling, biting, and other aggressive motions.
‘We have observed that when some aggressive behavior occurs (persecutions, shoves or blows with the tail), immediately afterwards another affiliative or friendly behavior takes place that seeks to make peace,’ one of the study’s authors. Javier Almunia, told Yahoo.
In order to get the unit back on track, whales have also developed signs of affection meant to signify reconciliation, the most common of which is returning to a synchronized form of swimming.
Whales are among the most social creatures on Earth, rivaling primates and dolphins.
That process of making up — unlike long-term human grudges — usually happens with the matter of three minutes.
‘When there is a stable group, with a solid matriarch whose leadership is not discussed, conflicts are minor and do not usually last too long,’ Almunia told Yahoo.
‘In this type of more cohesive groups, conflicts are resolved quickly and social life returns to its peaceful channels in a few minutes.’
Efforts by the researchers promise to help increase understanding of the social structure of Orcas who are often difficult to observe in the wild, which among other things, could help improve the lives of those animals in captivity.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT WHALE SONG?
For a long time it was believed that whales sang solely for mating purposes.
But some experts suggest the songs also help the mammals explore their surroundings.
Researchers have recorded humpback whales changing their calls when they move to new pastures in order to match the songs of others around them.
Learning these songs may help whales pinpoint one another and group together better when in unfamiliar waters.
Researchers have recorded humpback whales changing their calls when they move to new pastures in order to match the songs of others around them (file photo)
It is tricky for scientists to study how whales sing, as the shy beasts are notoriously difficult to observe, and each species vocalises differently.
Humpback whales sing using folds in the vocal box that vibrate at low frequencies as air is pushed over them.
It has been suggested they have special air sacs adjoining these vocal chords which connect to the lungs.
These allow the whales to pass air between their lungs, the sacs, and the vocal chords without losing any of their precious air supply.