Dolphins look friendly and cuddly while sharks look scary and ferocious. But there are times when dolphins can be just as violent, or more violent, than sharks. Here are some examples.
1. When they play volleyball with baby sharks
At the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida, dolphins would sometimes use baby sharks as volleyballs. The center consists of about 90,000 square feet of lagoons, occupied by 19 dolphins.
The staff used plastic mesh for fencing to keep the dolphins in and other animals out, but every once in a while a baby nurse shark would sneak through. The dolphins would use it like a toy, and the staff would have to rescue it.
2. When dolphins kill and sexually assault porpoises
It's not uncommon for dolphins to kill porpoises. But sexual assault? In 2011, there was a spike in the number of porpoises killed by dolphins in the San Fransisco Bay area, and many of the porpoises had bite marks and scrapes in the genital area. Scientists thought the perpetrators were probably young, sexually frustrated dolphins protecting their territory.
3. When adult male dolphins kill baby dolphins
Infanticide has not been observed frequently in dolphins, but it does happen. In 2013, a team of researchers became the first to witness a bottlenose dolphin give birth in the wild. Only two minutes after the calf was born, two males attacked it, trying to drown it by pushing it underwater.
The mother was able to save her calf by pushing it to the surface to breathe, but the incident left the researchers wondering whether dolphin infanticide happens more often than previously thought.
4. When male dolphins team up to capture female dolphins
If we anthropomorphized, this behavior could be called gang rape. Male bottlenose dolphins will often form teams of two or three and work together to capture a female and forcibly mate with her. The males will rush at her and surround her, making threatening noises and even hitting her with their tails. Their goal is to hold her hostage so she can't mate with other males outside the gang.
Male dolphins are notoriously sexually aggressive. This might be the reason why male dolphins will kill baby dolphins. If they kill the calf, the mother will be able to mate much sooner.
5. When dolphins bludgeon octopuses before eating them
This one is actually more understandable, because octopuses can put up one hell of a fight even while being swallowed. Dead dolphins have been found with octopuses lodged in their mouths or throats.
To avoid this happening, dolphins will brutalize octopuses before eating them. They will throw them around or slam them onto the surface of the water to force their bodies apart. It may be necessary in order to eat the food, but it still looks cruel.