[Sakai, Mai] Univ Tokyo, Ocean Res Inst, Ctr Int Cooperat, Tokyo, Japan; [Sakai, Mai] Univ Tokyo, Life Sci Network, Tokyo, Japan; [Wang, Ding; Wang, Kexiong; Li, Songhai] Chinese Acad Sci, Key Lab Aquat Biodivers & Conservat, Inst Hydrobiol, Wuhan, Peoples R China; [Akamatsu, Tomonari] Fisheries Res Agcy, Natl Res Inst Fisheries Engn, Ibaraki, Japan
Background: Observing and monitoring the underwater social interactions of cetaceans is challenging. Therefore, previous cetacean studies have monitored these interactions by surface observations. However, because cetaceans spend most of their time underwater, it is important that their underwater behavior is also continuously monitored to better understand their social relationships and social structure. The finless porpoise is small and has no dorsal fin. It is difficult to observe this species in the wild, and little is known of its sociality. Methodology/Principal Findings: The swim depths of 6 free-ranging finless porpoises were simultaneously recorded using a time-synchronized bio-logging system. Synchronous diving was used as an index of association. Two pairs, # 27 (an immature female estimated to be 3.5 years old) and # 32 (an adult male), # 28 (a juvenile male estimated to be 2 years old) and # 29 (an adult male), tended to participate in long periods of synchronized diving more frequently than 13 other possible pairs, indicating that the 4 porpoises chose their social partners. The adult males (# 32, # 29) tended to follow the immature female (# 27) and juvenile male (# 28), respectively. However, during synchronized diving, the role of an initiator often changed within the pair, and their body movements appeared to be non-agonistic, e. g., rubbing of bodies against one another instead of that on one-side, as observed with chasing and escaping behaviors. Conclusions/Significance: The present study employed a time-synchronized bio-logging method to observe the social relationships of free-ranging aquatic animals based on swimming depth. The results suggest that certain individuals form associations even if they are not a mother and calf pair. Long synchronized dives occurred when particular members were reunited, and this suggests that the synchronized dives were not a by-product of opportunistic aggregation.