DOL­PHIN DE­SIGNS

Scuba Diver Australasia - - Briefing -

Male hump­back dol­phins in North­ern Aus­tralia’s much-stud­ied Shark Bay have been doc­u­mented pos­ing with sponges on their heads, while mak­ing a “ba­nana” shape with their bod­ies, in bids to at­tract fe­males.

Re­searchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Western Aus­tralia spec­u­late that the sponges are prob­a­bly quite dif­fi­cult to re­move from the sea floor, and the “of­fer­ing” of one is likely to be a show of strength and abil­ity. How­ever, it doesn’t seem to be hav­ing the de­sired ef­fect on the ladies, with one frus­trated male even spot­ted throw­ing the sponge at his in­tended “sweet­heart”.

The same re­searchers doc­u­mented what ap­pears to be rudi­men­tary tool use amongst the dol­phins of Shark Bay, with some of these charis­matic cetaceans seen us­ing sponges to pro­tect their snouts when hunt­ing.

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