Dolphins are often seen as gentle creatures of the oceans. But these beloved, playful creatures also have a dark side - specifically a dark sexual side. While it's known that dolphins are one type of animal that has sex for pleasure like humans - and even masturbate like humans - a dark trait they share with people is the fact they commit sex crimes.
Can dolphins sexually assault each other? More importantly, can dolphins sexually assault people? Well, there's good news and bad news. The answer is complicated and it's somewhere between yes and no. First of all, we have to ask the question: are animals really capable of committing sexual assault? Dolphins are considered remarkably intelligent animals, but it's unlikely they have the same concept of consent that humans do.
When it comes to dolphins raping humans, it's true footage exists of dolphins being sexually aggressive towards scuba divers and swimmers. Actual rape stories, however, are difficult to corroborate and the credibility of the humans who tell them is suspect at best. After reading this, you'll know the facts as they stand on dolphin sexual assault, and you'll have to make up your own mind on whether or not dolphins are rapists.
While the above video is presented in a humorous context and the object of the dolphin's aggression is a good sport about the whole affair, there is little doubt the video - which has the very cut-and-dry title of "dolphin rape" and can hardly be construed as funny - shows sexual aggression from a dolphin. It does, however, provide some evidence that dolphins show signs of sexual aggression towards humans in both wild and more domesticated settings.
A well-known example of dolphin-on-human sexual activity in captivity occurred in the 1960s when Margaret Howe Lovatt, an employee working on a NASA-funded project, allowed a dolphin named Peter to rub himself sexually on her. The relationship was not sexual on her part, she claims. It appears as though the relationship did not necessarily involve sexual assault; rather, Lovatt allowed Peter to follow his natural instinct.
Brenner wrote Wet Goddess, a novel about a 20-something's love affair with a dolphin. The novel is strikingly similar to an experience Brenner claims he had in his own life.
In the 1970s, while a college student in Florida, Brenner supposedly carried out a prolonged love affair with a dolphin he called "Dolly." He claims their relationship began when he was hired by a children's book writer to take photographs of dolphins at a local amusement park. Dolly was, according to Brenner, very aggressive at first, thrusting her body against his, but became more gentle over time. The two purportedly continued human-on-porpoise coitus for nine months.
If Brenner is to be believed, it's difficult to imagine an interspecies consensual sexual relationship could actually occur. Therefore, it seems most likely that this was either a case of a human raping a dolphin or a dolphin raping a human. That is, if it ever even happened.
In July 2003, the San Francisco Gate reported Demi Moorewas the target of a sexually aggressive dolphin while visiting a Las Vegas water park and dolphin habitat with her family. She reportedly had to get out of the water quickly, and a spectator was recorded saying, "Dolphins are very sexually aggressive, and one went after Demi in a big way."
Several tabloid-style newspapers carried the story in the days following the alleged close encounter, but neither Moore nor any of her family has ever commented publicly on the matter, so it's difficult to determine the veracity of the story. Regardless, this is probably the highest level of celebrity an alleged dolphin sexual assault has ever attained, so take that as you will.
Georges, a dolphin living off the coast of southern England, had been a tourist attraction for years, causing swimmers, divers, and others from all over to visit the town of Weymouth. However, in the summer of 2002, Georges's sexually aggressive behavior caused local official to issue a warning, cautioning vacationers and locals to avoid the dolphin at all costs.
CNN reiterated the warning on its website, quoting renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry: "This dolphin does get very sexually aggressive. He has already attempted to mate with some divers." This was one of many warnings issued about sexually aggressive dolphins in recent decades, and one of the more high-profile. This again addresses the question of human standards of sexual assault and consent. If humans consider a creature (regardless of species) capable of engaging in what is essentially rape, is that species actually raping? Many people, experts and otherwise, seem to think so.
O'Barry went on to state, "When dolphins get sexually excited, they try to isolate a swimmer, normally female. They do this by circling around the individual and gradually move them away from the beach, boat or crowd of people."