Featured Image Credit: Dolphin Innovation Project
By Emily Persico
Competition for the ladies is stiff in Northern Australia, and humpback dolphins have enlisted a new strategy to attract the ladies. Swimming deep to the seafloor, male dolphins muscle sponges up and onto their foreheads in a display for the females.
“It would actually take a fairly impressive display of strength to rip that thing off the sea floor,” explains Dr. Allen of the University of Western Australia, who has been studying this odd behavior.
Of course, a sponge hat would be incomplete without a ridiculous pose to go along with it. And humpback dolphins seem to have settled on the “banana pose,” wherein a male contorts his body into the shape of a banana, lifting his head and tail out of the water and towards the heavens.
Despite tremendous effort, however, the ladies remain cold and uninterested in this quirky display of bravado.
“Every time we’ve seen it so far, the females appear to essentially ignore the male,” admits marine biologist Simon Allen. “And on a couple of occasions, we’ve witnessed the males, perhaps in frustration, toss the sponge at the female. So essentially, ‘if you don’t want these roses, I’m then going to throw them at you.’”
Dr. Allen and his associates have studied a number of complex social behaviors among humpback dolphins in Australia. Many of the observed behaviors vary regionally in different dolphin cultures, and earlier studies have noted that the level of cooperation among one group of males was unprecedented outside of humans.
To learn more about Dr. Allen’s work, check out our source.