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January 23, 2012 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Off the coast of Hawaii comes the first scientific evidence of cooperative play between a bottlenose dolphin and a humpback whale. In two separate incidents a dolphin rode on the head of a whale above the surface of the water. It is not, however, the only footage of dolphins and whales playing around and helping each other out.

From the American Museum of Natural History YouTube Channel:
Many species interact in the wild, most often as predator and prey. But recent encounters between humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins reveal a playful side to interspecies interaction. In two different locations in Hawaii, scientists watched as dolphins "rode" the heads of whales: the whales lifted the dolphins up and out of the water, and then the dolphins slid back down. The two species seemed to cooperate in the activity, and neither displayed signs of aggression or distress. Whales and dolphins in Hawaiian waters often interact, but playful social activity such as this is extremely rare between species. The latest Bio Bulletin from the Museum's Science Bulletins program presents the first recorded examples of this type of behavior.
[via BoingBoing]
posted by 2bucksplus (29 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Should you happen to subscribe to Aquatic Mammals (or have $12) you can read "Two Unusual Interactions Between a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and a Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Hawaiian Waters", a research article on these play sessions.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:06 AM on January 23, 2012


We are going to feel so stupid when this "playing" business turns out to be "they were conspiring together against us all along".
posted by elizardbits at 11:14 AM on January 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Wow, this is fantastic! I had no idea that dolphins and whales even paid attention to each other, let alone played together. The third video in the fpp left me completely confused though. The news broadcast completely left out what the dolphin actually DID to rescue the whale. You'd think that'd be first priority...
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:15 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marine Mammal Force, ASSEMBLE!
posted by orme at 11:18 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's an article about the dolphin saving a whale in New Zealand. Basically two pygmy sperm whales were disoriented and repeatedly beached themselves. Humans kept pushing them back out into the waves but the situation seemed hopeless. Then a dolphin showed up "communicated with whales" and led them safely back out to sea. Not too much to show there, but people seem to believe the dolphin saved the whales through communication and/or showing the safe way out to see. Shades of Echo the Dolphin.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey whale, it's all fun and games until someone get's a dolphin in her eye.
posted by idiopath at 11:25 AM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


first scientific evidence of a dolphin sticking it's dick in a whale's blowhole. scientists further expound on the meaning of the terms "blowhole" and "humpback"...
posted by kitchenrat at 11:27 AM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Simpsons already did a cetacean conspiracy episode!
posted by Renoroc at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2012


Then a dolphin showed up "communicated with whales" and led them safely back out to sea.

Well, it turned out that dolphin was the dolphin equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson.
posted by eriko at 11:42 AM on January 23, 2012


Now, ok: The dolphins and the whales should totally hatch a plan against whaling ships. The whales can harpoon the dolphins at whalers to impale them; just shoot right through a whaler's chest, out the other side and back into the water. Yes?
posted by New England Cultist at 11:46 AM on January 23, 2012


Dolphin: "weeeeeeeee!!!"
Whale: "what the... Why, you little...?!? Get off of my... Hey!!!"
Dolphin: "weeeeeeeee!!!! Look, mom... No hands!!!"
Whale: *sigh*
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:48 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Add this to the tales of dolphins and whales helping out people, and both species really seem to be the Volunteer Firemen [sic] of the Sea.
posted by bearwife at 11:54 AM on January 23, 2012


Marine Mammal Force, ASSEMBLE!

*Dolphin slowly slides off Whale's head*

Whale: "What. The. Fuck. Dolphin? We've practiced this about a bajillion times!? We should have this by now, and don't give me anymore of that "Flipper had a trainer" crap. Come-on, we're doing this until we get it right!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:22 PM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seems pretty clear from the photos that this is two people dressed in "big fish" costumes.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dolphins? Maybe, Maybe not
posted by stonepharisee at 12:28 PM on January 23, 2012


eriko: Well, it turned out that dolphin was the dolphin equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson.

What are all these mammal-feeling humans doing on my marine-flippered ocean?
posted by IAmBroom at 12:39 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I live on Kauai and am now off to search for these dolphin and whale friends! If you don't hear back from me, you will know elizardbits was right...
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:46 PM on January 23, 2012


kamikazegopher: "I live on Kauai and am now off to search for these dolphin and whale friends! If you don't hear back from me, you will know elizardbits was right..."

If I had a better memory I'd try to turn this into a running gag, a la "waffles/carrots"
posted by symbioid at 2:12 PM on January 23, 2012


(that is to say - show up in threads and fret about how kamikazegopher is doing since I haven't seen them in ages).
posted by symbioid at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2012




I'm not entirely convinced that the dolphin wasn't trying to get back his lunch money.
posted by I've wasted my life at 5:05 PM on January 23, 2012


The Dark Secrets That Dolphins Don't Want You to Know

So dolphins are murderous, infanticidal gang rapists who stay up for days at a time like some sort of demented meth addict? I didn't need to know that.
posted by Justinian at 5:35 PM on January 23, 2012


teh hooman tasted is fine. wales n dollfins r nice. com into teh wahter!!!
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:13 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Betweent stuff like this, watching my kitten discover the whole world again, every time she turns around (Hey, that's a ball! Wow! What's over here? Huh. What's over there? Hey, that's a ball! Wow!), I'd officially like to volunteer for any hypothetical process that would get me out of this suit and tie and work and blah world and transform me into a mammal who gets to play.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:28 PM on January 23, 2012


Humans are also "...violent predators with a predilection for baby killing and rape". This is probably why we get along with dolphins so well. Thankfully many of us (along with many dolphins, apparently) are able to raise above our base predilections.
posted by wheloc at 7:16 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


They might just like the sensation - lifting the dolphin out of the water is a good way to scratch your head when your flipping hands are too short. And being lifted out of the water by a whale is a good way to wheeee! I'm riding a whale!
posted by hat_eater at 6:21 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


So this means I can still hope that my cat decides to ride around on my dog, right?
posted by underthehat at 6:28 AM on January 24, 2012


underthehat: "So this means I can still hope that my cat decides to ride around on my dog, right?"

My friend's dogs try to ride his cat, but not in the way you mean.
posted by symbioid at 10:01 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Humans are also "...violent predators with a predilection for baby killing and rape". This is probably why we get along with dolphins so well. Thankfully many of us (along with many dolphins, apparently) are able to raise above our base predilections.

To be fair, wheloc, the same can be said of any mammal species, and many birds as well. There's the necrophilic gang rape duck incident, for instance... (google if you aren't familiar; I'm not going to be your huckleberry for this one...)

Now I'm starting to wonder... Are animals that commit rape somewhat unusual or specific? That is, I firmly believe that there are humans that are predisposed to being nice, gentle beings; under no normal circumstances would they kill, maim or rape. Ditto for the other side: there are such things as sociopaths. Do these types exist in the animal world? Are there humpack whales with a predilection for rape and violence? Is the very concept of rape completely alien to some field mice, although others would do it any time they could?
posted by IAmBroom at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2012


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