Researchers have found that a recently observed society of bottlenose dolphins, swimming and fucking without prejudice in Western Australia's Shark Bay live in an open society, the result of living without clearly defined territorial boundaries.
According to Richard Connor, co-author of a study titled Proceedings of the Royal Society B and one of several researchers who observed the behavior of 120 adult bottlenose dolphins in a large study area at Shark Bay, this particular population of dolphins differed significantly from other complex mammal societies. "Other mammals," he told Discovery News, "with complex social relationships live in a semi-closed group based on one or more reproductive females are defended by one or both sexes." Connor added that such groups or territories are typically "defended by one or both of the sex," but that an open society, such as that which the Shark Bay dolphins exist in, "is one without such defended boundaries."
The study focused on the complex social behavior of the male bottlenose dolphins, in particular the strong bounds established among "alliances" of anywhere between 4 and 14 males. Researchers observed that male dolphins engaged in "extensive bisexuality," with occasionally extensive periods of exclusive homosexuality, establishing close-knit groups that cooperate to herd and corner females during the mating season These units can endure for a long time, with one 7-member unit remaining intact after 7 years of raping, pillaging, and bottlenosing one another's genitals.
But while Connor admits that male dolphins can demonstrate extremely aggressive behavior, the open society at Shark Bay has fostered a "make love not war" lifestyle, making these dolphins more peaceful than some terrestrial animals such as humans and chimpanzees. Female dolphins, Connor notes, demonstrate very little aggression, and males, though capable of "serious aggression," tend not to squabble among themselves as much as the males of other social mammals.
For all their free-love, though, Connor determined that dolphin relationships, with all their shifting alliances and complex relationships, would be "mentally and physically exhausting," and he's very happy not to be a dolphin, which makes sense, considering how incredibly frustrating it must be to have such a huge brain and flippers for hands.
Dolphins — Living Loose in the Ocean [Discovery News]