A new study reveals that male dolphins, just like humans, try to use gifts or wingmen to woo female dolphins.
Scientists recorded adult male humpback dolphins performing acoustic and visual displays for the females, as well as presenting marine sponges to them to get laid. It is the first time scientists have witnessed the behavior in this species.
It is typical for complex male animals to demonstrate sexual displays, but it’s less pervasive to see gifts and objects being used to entice a mate.
An example of this sexual display can be seen in the adult male bowerbirds, who throw beautiful objects around. However, according to researchers, the adult male humpback dolphin carries objects as a way of demonstrating his strength and mating prowess.
Scientists believe that carrying of objects is a strategy for showing the male’s strength as a qualified mating partner.
Scientists observed a male dolphin diving deep to extract a large marine sponge attached to the seabed, and pushing it with his beak toward his crush.
“We were initially baffled to observe these captivating behavioral demonstrations by the male humpback dolphins, but after many successful explorations, the puzzle was solved,” said Simon Allen, a scientist at the University of Western Australia.
“The humpback dolphin is one of the most social and complex creatures on earth using marine sponges as a gift, or to display his strength and quality for mating.”
Dolphins use wingmen
Another interesting observation was that male humpback dolphins also use wingmen, cooperating in sets to entice a mate. This behavioral display is also found in humans, lions, as well as red howler monkeys.
“The corporations between adults males humpback dolphins for the aim of attracting mates is rare because mating achievement can’t be shared,” said Stephanie King, co-creator of the paper.
Gifts and wingmen don’t guarantee mating
Apparently, the use of marine sponges and wingmen won’t always be successful. Thus, scientists hope to carry out more studies to determine if sexual demonstrations really help the male dolphins in getting laid.