Dolphins are well known for their intelligence. They are capable of emotion, objectivity, humor and creativity. Unlike the vast majority of animals in the wild, dolphins are regularly observed approaching humans and voluntarily interacting. They have a reputation for friendliness and intelligence toward other species, but they also love to be with each other, just hanging out. In fact, the average dolphin day looks remarkably like the ideal human day.
They Love to be Polite
When dolphins encounter new and strange dolphins, they perform an informal introduction ritual based on exchanging a series of whistles. The whistles contain information about age, sex, health and intent. Unlike other social mammals, such as mongooses, who are naturally aggressive toward other groups of their own species, dolphins love to get along and exchanging a greeting is crucial to that. Without the introduction, dolphins would be unsure of one another’s intentions.
They Love to Hang Out
Many animals, including dogs, lions, primates and insects, display social behavior. Typically, such social behavior occurs because it is beneficial for the species on the whole, whether for hunting, protection or resource consolidation. However, dolphins love to socialize for the sheer fun of it. Dolphin socialization is centered around swimming. The fascinating element of this habit is that dolphins can survive quite happily on their own, but choose to socialize.
They Love to Play
Play is an important part of communication for numerous animals. Canine and feline species play to learn hunting techniques and to assert dominance. Dolphins love to play, but they’ll do it whether they’re alone or in a group, suggesting that they do it for fun, rather than to emulate other actions. Dolphins particularly love to jump out of the water during play.
They Love to Make Love
In the animal kingdom, sex is a risky business. It exposes an animal to the risk of attack from predators and in some cases, to the risk of injury from the mate. Some animals are even at risk of being eaten by their mate during sex. This is why animals typically mate with caution and do so very rarely, as an evolutionary imperative. However, dolphins, like humans and some primates, have sex for pleasure. For dolphins, sex is a rewarding experience. Some scientists also believe that dolphins can achieve orgasm while having sex.
Then They Need a Rest
Once all the socializing, play and romance is over, dolphins love to rest. But they don’t rest in the same way humans rest. They rest by shutting down one half of the brain at a time. This enables them remain alert to threats. To rest, dolphins head toward a bay, away from the surf and potential predators. Here, they spend approximately four hours relaxing and recharging.
- Royal Society Publishing: "Nasty Neighbours" Rather than "Dear Enemies" in a Social Carnivore
- Duke University; Nicholas School of the Environment: A Day in the Life of a Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin: Resting and Vigilance
- Mail Online: Now That's What I Call Synchronised Swimming! Stunning Pictures Show off how Playful Dolphins Love to Show Off their Acrobatic Leaps
- Rhino Resource Center: Death of Female Rhinos During Mating
- Berkley University: The Evolution of Sexual Cannibalism
- Live Science: Do Animals Enjoy Sex?
- Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images