A group of marine researchers in charge of keeping a close eye on the aquatic wildlife found near the Azores Islands somehow came across a pod of whales that were swimming around in the company of a deformed dolphin.
Later on, the researchers came to understand that the whales saw this deformed dolphin as more than just a buddy they enjoyed hanging out with every once in a while. Quite the contrary: the dolphin was part and parcel of this family of sperm whales.
“It really looked like they had accepted the dolphin for whatever reason. They were being very sociable,” biologist Alexander Wilson wrote in a report published in the journal Science Magazine.
Commenting on this peculiar behavior displayed by both the dolphin, and the pod of sperm whales, the marine scientists explained that, from their standpoint, the dolphin chose to ditch its family and hang out with whales instead because its spinal deformation prevented it from keeping up with those of its kind.
As well as this, the dolphin's deformity most likely translated into its having a low social status within its own group, meaning that the animal was prone to being bullied by other dolphins that found themselves in better health.
“Sometimes some individuals can be picked on. It might be that this individual didn't fit in, so to speak, with its original group. The dolphin was able to stay with the whales because they swim more slowly and always leave a 'babysitter' near the surface with the calves while the other adults dive deep,” the researchers explained.
However, why it was exactly that the sperm whales agreed to welcome this intruder into their group is bound to remain a mystery, Huffington Post reports.
Interestingly enough, several scientists are quite convinced that dolphins and whales share certain communication signals, which is why their interacting with one another in such ways should not come as a surprise.