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No friends means no offspring – the tough life of male dolphins

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Being social is essential for dolphins in Shark Bay, WA. Especially the male dolphins form lifelong friendships. Our guest, the behavioural ecologist, Dr Livia Gerber, from the University of New South Wales Sydney, wondered why the male dolphins spend so much time nurturing their relationships. Eventually she found, reported in a freshly published paper, that these close bonds between male dolphins are essential for passing on their genes to the next generation. It takes a group of males to convince a female to mate with them. Without his wing men, the single male dolphin doesn’t stand a chance.

Livia on the boast in Shark Bay studying the complex alliances of male dolphins

How Livia found out about these fascinating facts, how male dolphins nurture their bonds and what life in general looks like for a male dolphin in Shark Bay, you will learn in this episode.

We always knew that dolphins were smart. But Livia’s findings are still a surprise. Male dolphins form life-long relationship with other males. The rule is simple: no friends, no offspring!

Listen in to the interview!

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Livia’s recently published paper on the topic: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982222004225