For the dolphin it seems to have been a painful lesson learned, and for the octopus, a joy ride it will not soon forget….
A scientist who studies dolphins off western Greece last week captured an incredible sequence of images — perhaps the first of their kind — showing a leaping bottlenose dolphin with a large octopus clinging to its belly.
“I have never seen anything like this,” Joan Gonzalvo of the Ionian Dolphin Project told New Scientist. “My hypothesis is that the dolphin might have attacked – tried to prey on the octopus – and somehow to avoid it the octopus just attached to the dolphin’s belly.”
Makes sense, considering that whales are known to breach in order to shake free of parasites.
Gonzalvo posted a short story about the peculiar encounter on the Dolphin Project blog, under the headline, “Naughty octopus,” because of the sensitive region on which the crafty cephalopod latched onto.
It was one of four dolphins in a pod swimming off the island of Kalamos in the Ionian Sea. “Right on the spot we were not sure about what exactly was hanging from the dolphin’s belly,” Gonzalvo wrote. “What was our surprise when we examined the photos and discovered that naughty octopus!”
The dolphin was able to shake the octopus loose and resume normal swimming behavior with the pod, perhaps having learned to be more careful the next time it decides to dine on a creature that is considered to be highly intelligent, and with so many sticky arms at its disposal.
– Images are courtesy of the Ionian Dolphin Project. To view more images, please visit the blog via the blue link in this story.
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