How dolphin are you?
As Radio 4's intrepid explorer, dolphin enthusiast and presenter of Open Country, Patrick Aryee, travels to West Wales to touch base with bottlenose dolphins off the coast, we take pause to explore just how cool our seafaring friends really are...
Yes, forget cats and dogs, the mammal we should aspire to be is a dolphin. Huge fan base, great parents, massive entourage, cool to hang out with - they’re like the Beckhams with blowholes. Here’s how to cultivate your inner A-list dolphin (tip: it’s just below your appendix, on the left).
They live in pods, which can consist of two or even up to a 1,000 dolphins. But that’s usually just at Christmas or weddings. Scientists believe that a lone dolphin that’s lost its pod will seek out humans for company, or borrow a mobile to ask the rest of its pod where the hell they’ve gone.
Be a good parent
Dolphins are helicopter parents. Research has shown dolphins using sponges as tools and teaching their offspring how to do so. Left to their own devices the offspring will still forget to clean their teeth, however.
Male dolphins sometimes take a fancy to female human swimmers and will chase male swimmers out of the water, in jealousy. While a female dolphin holds his coat and shouts “leave it Dave he ain’t worth it.”
While sleeping only half of the dolphin’s brain goes to sleep while the other half remains awake so they can continue to breathe and not miss their bus stop.
Only humans, great apes and elephants share their sophisticated level of self-awareness
They have sex for pleasure. Not just because it’s Tuesday.
The BBC have filmed a group of dolphins playing with a puffer fish, which releases a deadly toxin. In small doses the toxin acts like alcohol for the dolphins. When the camera crew returned the next day however they found the dolphins eating bacon sandwiches and saying they were never going to play with puffa fish again except maybe one at Kelly’s birthday do. Maximum two.
Dolphins play tag games with seaweed, “spyhop” (leaping out of the water and holding themselves vertically to look at what’s going on) and one pod was filmed in Japan wrenching an octopus off a rock and passing it to each other. The octopus survived by clamping itself to the face of one of the dolphins, a technique known as ‘doing a Suarez’.
Dolphins communicate mainly in whistles, barks and rasps and body posturing, like teenage boys. So now you know. You can go off clicking and flipping and enjoy the rest of your day, confident in the knowledge that the more dolphin you are, the cooler you’ll be. As Douglas Adams put it in Hitchhiker’s Guide, “…man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”