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Dolphins Are Jerks... Here's Why!

Dolphins that we know and love to be smart and friendly are capable of some horrific crimes. Yes. Sometimes dolphins hunt, torture, murder and rape their own species or others.

So majestic and free

Dolphins are smart, intelligent, amazing creatures that we all know and love, but also they’re horrible rapists and murderers.

…huh?

Yes. Horrible as it seems, we sometimes have the naïvety to assume that “Mother Nature is cruel” extends only to predator-prey relationships. But that's not true. Mother Nature can be cruel in all kinds of ways. Humans are not the only creatures capable of horrific crimes that feed our egos. Dolphins are very, very, intelligent, sensitive and social, but sometimes that means they find creative ways to entertain themselves in the deep blue, and by creative I mean absolutely psychotic. 

It all began around 2008 when there were bodies of baby porpoises AND baby dolphins wash up on the shore of Virginia, and the East Coast of Scotland, round about the same time. The mangled, horrible condition of the bodies was a mystery, as marine biologists wondered what could have killed them in this way? Initially, it was thought to be “blast injuries” from sonic air-guns used by the US Navy underwater. However, on closer examination the injuries showed broken ribs, crushed lungs and livers, broken backs, crushed spines, and so much internal bleeding- they knew this was a targeted animal attack. But which animal? Who would attack baby porpoises and dolphins?

Cute, but then you look  into its eyes...

This was solved when some civilians taking a boat ride were watching a bottle-nosed dolphin playing with its baby. They were filming it with joy- until they saw the dolphin flip and spin what we now know to be a baby porpoise, with such force that its back broke and its tissue was badly damaged. Then they were filming it with shock. This video became key evidence in solving these “mystery murders”. So it turns out, that bottle nosed-dolphins have been observed to hunt, torture and eventually murder porpoises, baby porpoises, and baby dolphins from the OWN groups. There are no solid theories as to why they do this- if they are threatened, or if it's territorial- but as of now, it seems they do it for…fun? 

There is another, potentially darker reason as to why they murder baby dolphins of their own species and tribes- rape and coercion. Yeah that’s right, they murder the pups of mothers that they decide they want to mate with- and mate with NOW- so that she has to reproduce again and goes into heat soon. Some may argue that animals do not understand consent and thus rape doesn’t exist amidst them- they just follow their instincts. However, if a creature goes to the extent of manipulating an individual that clearly is against the act, and the end result is mating- it is forced copulation, also known as rape. More evidence? There have been various instances of a group of male dolphins isolating a female, and beating her around with their tails repeatedly, and then in her weakened state forcefully mating with her for weeks. This can be for various reasons- a sex ratio change resulting in lesser females, evolutionary pressures- it’s all still being studied in detail. 

Sometimes they do just play and jump around for fun, they're not all bad, all the time

Dolphins are…interesting. They are so social, they even have names and separate languages between tribes. They are brilliant and clever, and these behaviours that we understand as cruelty may be a subset of the application of this intelligence. What did human beings do as we evolved as a species? Organised crime, war, mass rape and genocide. So of course, an animal who’s vast intelligence we are only recently appreciating is shocking us with similar behaviours as well. We can’t judge, but we can certainly appreciate that dolphins can be jerks. 

Malvika Nair

Malvika Nair

Jeevoka member since Oct 2019

I do not believe animals are 'voiceless' and aim to educate myself in understanding all their voices. I love TV and learning new languages...through TV. I am a pianist and singer and regularly sing to my cats and dog.
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