POPULATION STATUS AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF NORTHERN BOTTLENOSE WHALES (HYPEROODON AMPULLATUS) ON THE SCOTIAN SHELF
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I examined the dynamics of an endangered population of northern bottlenose whales over a 23-year period during which its prime habitat, the Gully canyon, was made a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Using mark-recapture techniques on photo-identifications I estimate a current population of 116 animals (95% CI=101-130). The population size and sex-ratio have remained stable since before the MPA designation suggesting this population is persisting. I used photo-identifications and high definition videography to examine the social organization of northern bottlenose whales, including behavioural synchrony. Relationships are highly variable; most associations are short-lived, but there are also long-term preferred associations lasting from several years (female/immature dyads) to over a decade (mature male dyads). I found little, if any, division of the social community. Synchronized breathing is common, precise, and appears to vary with behaivoural context. Although speculative, synchronized breathing might play a role the maintenance of general social relationships within this population.