They’re making a right old splash…
Scientists have revealed that they are studying a group of gay bottlenose dolphins recently discovered in Australia to get a better understanding of same-sex interaction between the water-based mammals.
Homosexual behaviour between dolphins has been observed in the past, but this is the first time scientists will attempt to understand the exact reason for the same-sex acts that occur between them.
“These dolphins, all but three of them juveniles, organised themselves in four subgroups in which they were observed engaging in socio-sexual behaviour that included mounting and genital contact between individuals,” Murdoch University’s Krista Nicholson explained to the Mandurah Mail.
“The subgroups joined, frequently forming a large group, and then split again in different group compositions.”
The dolphins in questions have been observed by a team from the Mandurah Dolphin Research Project in Western Australia.
“Apart from homosexual behaviour, males, unlike females, in Shark Bay have also been recorded to perform synchronous displays,” Krista added.
“In Shark Bay, where male dolphins form lifelong alliances, socio-sexual interactions between males are more common than between females or between the sexes.”
Krista explained that homosexual behaviour between male dolphins seemingly helps them develop social bonds with each other, as well as establishing dominance and alliances within their groups.
However, Janet Mann – who has studied dolphins in the Shark Bay area for decades – has a different theory.
She reckons that the males practice mating with each other before they find a female partner.
“Homosexual interactions in bottlenose dolphins…seem to serve multiple functions, although the exact fitness consequences, if any, are unknown,” she wrote in her book Homosexual Behaviour in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective.
“Our understanding of the social structure and relationships in a larger context would suggest that male-male social-sexual interactions are significant for the development of close bonds or alliance formation, negotiating dominance relations within and between eventual alliances, and practicing courtship behaviours for adulthood.”