first_img Just like humans, ocean animals can be picky about who they’re friends with: Researchers have discovered that some bottlenose dolphins have cliquey social circles and avoid rival squads.On Tuesday, the University of St Andrews shared their dolphin findings in a press release. The study, which was published in the Marine Biology journal on Dec. 18, showed that even though some dolphins can exhibit cliquey behavior, the groups still managed to cooperate and take turns inhabiting seas.Photo Credit: Ana HaceResearchers from the Morigenos Slovenian Marine Mammals Society and the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews, analyzed the social network of dolphins in the northern Adriatic Sea. While studying the area for more than 16 years, researchers found that dolphins located in the Gulf of Trieste created different social circles and some didn’t like to hangout together.The Gulf of Trieste’s dolphin society had three different groups: two large social groups with long-lasting friendships and stable membership, and a smaller third group dubbed “freelancers” that had weaker bonds between members.Infographic of the bottlenose dolphin social groups (Photo Credit: Ana Hace/Genov et al 2018)Even though the two large social groups mostly avoided each other, they cooperated in certain areas of the sea, with each group visiting these locations at different times. University of St Andrews said this temporal partitioning hasn’t been previously documented with other mammals, including whales.“We were quite surprised by this. It’s not uncommon for dolphins to segregate into different parts of the sea, but to have certain times of the day in which they gather is unusual,” Tilen Genov of St Andrews University said. “We would sometimes see one social group in the morning and then the group in the same area in the late afternoon.”Dolphins are known to live in groups, and these social circles could change frequently with members joining or leaving, according to the researchers. Dolphins in these groups prefer spending time with “best friends,” or other buddies they like to live with.Researchers might not have a solid answer for different dolphin behaviors, however, dolphins might respond differently to various human activities, such as fishing.“Human activities can likely alter behavior and social structure of mammals. However, causal links are unclear and it’s difficult to ascertain what came first,” the study said. “The inherent social structure itself, and social learning, may lead to differential behavior and interactions with anthropogenic activities, without these activities changing the social system in the first place.”More on the Sea Turtles in This Study Had Microplastics in Their GutsOcean Rover Uncovers Rare Shark Nursery Off Irish Coast‘Headless Chicken Monster’ Spotted in Southern Ocean Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferNASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This Weekend Stay on targetlast_img