Social and non-social play in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas)

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Ham, Jackson Robert
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Neuroscience
Although many species of Cetacea play, few detailed studies of their play exist. The present thesis provides detailed descriptions of two types of social play (sexual play and mouth-to-mouth interaction play) and one type of non-social play (object play) in belugas (Delphinapterus leucas), an Artic dwelling species of toothed whale. The group studied contained animals of many ages of both sexes and was maintained under human care. Given the unique features of different types of play, a major conclusion of this thesis is that play is multi-functional. Indeed, even a single form of play (e.g., mouth-to-mouth interactions) may have more than one function. For example, while mouth-to-mouth interactions may help train motor coordination skills in immature animals, such play may be used to form and maintain social relationships in adults. For belugas, play is serving many functions, all depending on the type of play and the age of the animals.
development , behaviour , marine mammal , White whale -- Development -- Research , White whale -- Behavior -- Research , Play behavior in animals -- Research , Animal behavior , Social behavior in animals -- Research , Marine mammals -- Behavior -- Research , Cetacea -- Behavior -- Research , Play -- Social aspects -- Research , Dissertations, Academic