Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wild dolphins are primal hunters, not only friendly creatures!

Flipper might not be as scary as Jaws, but scientists say they've proved that normally friendly dolphins can also be sharklike indiscriminate killers - even slaughtering their own young.

Film evidence shows that the usually tranquil seafaring mammals are capable of brutal attacks on both their cousin species the porpoise, and on their own kind.

Videos originally taken by vacationers off the coast of Scotland show baby porpoises being rammed, tossed and pursued to their deaths by dolphins.

One sequence seems to show dolphins fishing for salmon - until a closer examination reveals a relentless attack on a porpoise, its body spinning around with such force that its back was broken and its soft tissue shattered.

Four years ago, members of a Scottish marine animal rescue unit witnessed another example of what they described to a British newspaper as "the worst example of inter-specific aggression any of us had ever seen." They said a young female dolphin "literally had the life beaten out of her ..."
The mounting evidence of dolphin aggression has left animal experts baffled as to what provokes the seemingly random acts of brutality.

The behavior has now been observed along Scotland's East Coast and off the beaches of Virginia, where the victims included the dolphins' own young.

Dolphins' increasingly close brushes with tourist boats and beaches have allowed the violence to be be witnessed firsthand. Until recently, dolphin-watchers believed they were watching the mammals at play with their young. Marine experts now believe that these shocking instances of dolphin infanticide and attacks on gentle porpoises may have always taken place.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"