Animals do some pretty freaky stuff to keep making more of themselves, like tricking their partners into having sex or even killing them and eating them after doing it for an extra boost of baby-making energy. But dolphins, surely, wouldn’t engage in such disgusting behavior, right? Look at their little faces! How do dolphins have sex, anyway? Magical rainbows beaming back and forth between them? If only.
Despite their cute exterior, dolphins are total freaks when it comes to sex, and the males in particular are pretty reprehensible, at least by human standards. Incest? Disgusting masturbation? Bestiality? Check, check, and check. But dolphins are also surprisingly fluid in their choice of partners, living bisexual or even exclusively homosexual lives. They also have sex for pleasure unlike most animals. Here are some dolphin sex facts that will definitely change the way you think about these amazing, tool-wielding weirdos.
Male Dolphins Masturbate Using Eels and Dead Fish
Male bottlenose dolphins get pretty creative – and incredibly disgusting – with their self-pleasure. They’ve been observed wrapping live, wriggling eels around their penises to masturbate. They’ve also been filmed using a decapitated fish head for the same purpose. Makes you rethink all those hours you spent playing Ecco the Dolphin on the Sega Genesis, right?
Male Dolphins Have Penises That Can Swivel and Feel Like a Hand
Dolphin penises are quite remarkable: they’re retractable, they can swivel, and they can grab around and feel things, much like a hand. Dolphins have a prehensile penis, which means it’s able to actually grab onto things. Dolphins share this trait with some whales, who are said to have an erotic endurance all their own.
Dolphins Sometimes Try to Mate with Humans
In a bizarre, deeply unsettling twist on Jaws, a 400 lb. bottlenose dolphin named Georges briefly terrorized the beachside community of Weymouth, England in 2002. No, Georges wasn’t trying to snack on the locals – he was trying to mate with them. “When dolphins get sexually excited, they try to isolate a [human] swimmer, normally female. They do this by circling around the individual and gradually move them away from the beach, boat, or crowd of people,” said dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, famous for training TV’s Flipper. O’Barry warned Georges’s monstrous, interspecial horniness posed “a real threat to the thousands of swimmers who will be descending on Weymouth over the summer” because the unwanted attention could easily cause people to drown. Fortunately, Georges didn’t hump anyone to death.
They Occasionally Practice Incest
A 2004 study proved that dolphins – everyone’s favorite Lisa Frank trapper keeper animal – occasionally practice incest. A male known as “BJA” reproduced with his own 15-year-old daughter in 1993. The crew BJA ran with also had males “herd” their own mothers, meaning they violently tried to copulate with them. Could it just be chance? All those dolphins do look alike, after all. Unfortunately, no: a 2010 study showed the rate of incest in BJA’s little corner of the world was “higher than expected by chance alone.”
Many Male Dolphins Are Bisexual
The sex lives of male bottlenose dolphins are “characterized by extensive bisexuality, combined with periods of exclusive homosexuality,” according to Bruce Bagemihl, author of Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. Not that there’s anything weird about bisexuality, but it’s not something one associates with dolphins. These aren’t just flings – these guys are committed to each other, sometimes spending their entire adult lives together (Bagemihl notes their sexual activity “wanes” in their later years). When one dies, the other even seeks out a fellow “widower” to shack up with. Unfortunately, it’s usually a lost cause, since all the other dolphins are already committed by that age.
Male Dolphins Bite During Sex
Male dolphins are notoriously aggressive while mating, but they’re also into a little harmless bite play. It’s one of their main foreplay moves in fact, according to a 2005 paper published in the Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology. A male sometimes “gently bites” the female’s “genital slit” with his beak before copulation. The freak doesn’t stop there – he also nibbles on her flippers.
Aggressive Group Sex Is Common
Because male and female dolphins are essentially the same size – meaning females cant be overpowered physically by males – they’ve taken to a much more aggressive system of impregnating a fertile female: violent gangbangs. Male dolphins team up in groups to dominate and “herd” a rare fertile female. The males chase the female, bite her, slap her with their fins or slam into her with their bodies. This, after “leaping and bellyflopping, swiveling and somersaulting, all in perfect synchrony with one another” to try and impress her. Groups of as many as ten male dolphins will take turns with one female, repeatedly copulating in roughly half-hour sessions.
Sex Lasts Less Than a Minute
The actual act of penetration in the dolphin world is pretty underwhelming. Foreplay is an elaborate and sometimes violent dance, but the intercourse is over in less time than it takes to nuke a Hot Pocket. It only lasts 10-20 seconds and the male also only inserts half of his penis.
Unlike Many Animals, Dolphins Have Sex for Pleasure
Dolphins belong to a small group of animals that sometimes have sex just for the sensation. Bonobos, certain bats, and, of course, humans belong to that group, as well. The dolphin sex drive is far more ravenous than the average human, however: they are known to spend “three months in sexual play in the wild.” But, like humans, they also stop having sex for pleasure when they’re too stressed out.
It’s Always Belly to Belly
You would think with all these weird dolphin sex facts there would have to be some freaky sex positions, too, right? They’re extraordinarily agile and athletic animals, plus they’re underwater. Nope, the sex is always “belly to belly,” which, combined with the extraordinarily short penetration time, means dolphins have some of quickest, most vanilla sex in the animal kingdom. We know they still have sex for pleasure, though, so who knows? Maybe it’s a blast.
Dolphin Vaginas Are Spiral-Shaped
Science tells us a dolphin’s vagina looks like the inside of a beautiful shell. Using a few dead lady dolphins and some giant syringes full of silicone, researchers were able to successfully map the inside of a dolphin vagina in 2015. (One small step for man, etc.) Dissection previously showed the inside contained “a series of muscular flaps and ridges,” but the silicone mold reveals an intricate, ribbed spiral.