You’ve probably seen pictures of pigs cross-fostering puppies, and baby geese who follow around a human as their mother, but this case of cross-species fostering is the first I’ve seen among cetaceans (whales and dolphins). In the video below, you will see a group of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), swimming with and from time to time brushing fins with a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) with a bent spine. Sperm whales are huge compared to dolphins, with male sperm whales reaching lengths of up to 67 feet. Yet in this video, you will see the bottlenose swimming close together near a young sperm whale, about twice the length of the dolphin. What a beautiful place for this dolphin to find acceptance … among a group of toothed whales who look so different as to make the dolphin’s deformity invisible.
The rapid, high-pitched clicks you hear are most likely being emitted by the dolphin. The lower-pitched far-spaced single clicks are more likely from one of the sperm whales, who do not whistle and buzz like bottlenose. A set of clicks is called a coda; sperm whales use these clicks to communicate as well as to echolocate for food.