If you thought that only men like attracting women with stunning presents, you were wrong. A group of marine biologists has observed the mating process of dolphins on the northwest coast of Australia and they recorded an uncommon event, where male dolphins attract female dolphins by offering them gifts in the form of marine sponges!
Dolphins are considered some of the most intelligent animals in the world, and their intelligence and resourcefulness have been seen and proven many times. Moreover, they have a complicated social structure, and scientists have observed many times the way they communicate and their ability to identify each individual dolphin. On the other hand, scientists have never before recorded this particular behavior, although dolphins have been documented and observed for a very long time.
A decade long research project on coastal dolphins has been conducted by scientists from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences, the University of Zurich, and Murdoch University. They were observing coastal dolphins around north-western Australia and revealed their results that have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
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The scientists managed to record adult male Australian humpback dolphins that gifted marine sponges to female dolphins while performing visual and acoustical gestures. The scientists observed a male dolphin reaching to the floor of the ocean to get a marine sponge, which it then put on the end of its beak to give it to a female. Scientists have documented dolphins mating before. However, seeing male dolphins attract female dolphins with gifts, in particular, this behavior in animals is extremely rare.
“We were at first perplexed to witness these intriguing behavioral displays by male humpback dolphins, but as we undertook successive field trips over the years, the evidence mounted,” Dr. Simon Allen from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences and lead author of the study, said in a press release that was published on the University of Western Australia’s website.
Sometimes it occurred that once the male dolphins gave the sponge to the female, he would make a quick pose for added effect. Others would move their tail, lifting it above the water. The researchers refer to this pose as the “banana pose.”
Co-author of the study, Dr. Stephanie King, added that their team observed two or more male dolphins at a time, working together in pairs. It is not usual to see two competing male dolphins work in pairs. Considering that they are after the same thing, they are supposed to be competitors. However, those dolphins managed to help each other, by mirror posturing or to control the way female dolphins move. Scientists who conducted the study call this behavior “cooperative to compete.”
“The formation of alliances between adult males for the purposes of coercing females is uncommon since mating success cannot be shared,” Dr. King said.
Check out the video showing male dolphins attract female dolphins with gifts