Head standing

While onboard the Red Sea Dolphin Project, we had the chance to observe and document a wide range of events and animal behaviours. One of the most fascinating is the Risso’s dolphin head standing.

When performing it, the animal stands for a few seconds (up to several minutes) in a vertical position with the head underwater and the tail out of the water, in a move that reminds of the vertical in synchronized swimming.


Synchronised swimming vertical and head standing.

Valentina (www.liquidjungle.tv) put together a short video displaying the behaviour as we observed it in the Southern Egyptian Red Sea.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Now, although the peculiar behaviour is known to occur in various regions, the reasons why it does occur are still under debate. Hypotheses put forward include reaction to distress (either natural or human related), communication, resting, and thermoregulation, but the behaviour is still unexplained.

Marina and our colleague Elisa Remonato have recently called upon the international cetacean community to provide information about the behaviour in different areas of the world and begin the first systematic and dedicated study of the head-standing.

If you conduct an activity at sea (e.g. whale watching, surveys land or boat-based, etc) and do encounter Risso’s, you match the study participant profile. The presence of the head-standing behaviour is NOT a requirement. Join the 20+ respondents and contribute your information!! Participants simply fill in a questionnaire that can be requested from Marina (marinza.costa@gmail.com).


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