One way whales in captive facilities learn new behaviors is through observational learning. This means rather than being taught the behavior by trainers, they learn from the other whales! Cetaceans are naturally good at mimicry because in the wild, mothers teach their calves hunting techniques through this style of learning. In captivity, observational learning is often utilized by trainers to teach new calves basic behaviors. Young whales are quick to pick up on what their older relatives are doing, and can often be seen haphazardly trying to imitate “big whale” behaviors. In the first gif, an adult whale named Keet is seen executing a behavior called a “thrash slideout” perfectly. In the second gif, a young whale named Makani tries his best to do the same. It should be noted that while Keet received an SD to do this behavior, Makani did not nor was he ever officially taught it. He simply appears to be practicing it in his free time.
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Second gif [x]
full credit to cetuscetus and Natalie Morales