Today we had a very relaxed morning on the ocean. Small shoals of fish here and there were on demand by Cory’s Shearwaters. It seemed that the Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) already had filled up their stomachs since they left the fishes behind. It was time to socialize, to enjoy bow riding and to spend time with amorous adventures.
Yes, dolphins are very tactile animals! By precise observation it catches someone’s eye that they touch each other permanently. They swim flipper on flipper; they caress with their flippers the body of another animal or they swim side on side in common mode, while bodies are touching each other.
But why they are doing this? Well one reason is the sense of belonging! Body contact is an important proof of sympathy which has positive ripple effects on team work. Mother and calves show their connection through their touches. In the beginning the calf is always next to mothers side.
Surely during mating, respectively foreplay touches, play an important role to stimulate the female. While preliminary skirmish might continue for a longer period of time, the actual act is done in a few seconds. Mating behavior not only serves reproduction, but can be practiced as act of membership or friendship or just for fun. In early age dolphins start practicing! Long before sexual maturity they are sexual active. It seems monogamy doesn’t exist in their dictionary!
A dolphin female might have 1-3 ovulation per year. Researcher act on the assumption, that the male is able to “taste” this through her urine but for sure the female will as well express her willingness to mate through her behavior. Dolphins (and whales) mate belly to belly!
Mrs. Dara Orbach, a scientist and her team wanted to know in detail about the genital anatomy of marine mammals. During a convention of anatomists she presented her work and thesis. The vagina of female dolphins consist of complex folding and slots, which almost look like an elaborate cave system.
In accordance with the thesis of the scientist, the female has most likely the change to choose the future father of her new calf. Through a slight turn of her body he might be able to lead the penis of the male in the right direction (towards the ovules), so fertilization might happen or her body movement leads the penis in a slot (blind alley) out of reach for the sperm. If this theory is correct the female has full control over fatherhood, even if she mates with many different males.
If you check our pictures of the day, you will actually see two dolphins in love action. Mind the curious look of the dolphin towards audience after the act. 🙂
By Fatima Kutzschbach
Sightings of the day
10.00 Common dolphins
14.30 Common dolphins, Atlantic Spotted dolphins