U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 2001, 61, 853-859.


Studying the sociobiology and behavioral ecology of cetaceans is particularly challenging due in large part to the aquatic environment in which they live. Nevertheless, many of the obstacles traditionally associated with data gathering on tree-ranging whales, dolphins and porpoises are rapidly being overcome, and are now far less formidable. During the past several decades, marine mammal scientists equipped with innovative research methods and new technologies have taken field-based behavioral studies to a new level of sophistication. In some cases, as is true for bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, sperm whales and humpback whales, modern research paradigms in the marine environment are comparable to present-day studies of terrestrial mammal social systems. Cetacean Society stands testament to the relatively recent advances in marine mammal science, and to those scientists, past and present, whose diligence has been instrumental in shaping the discipline.