Dolphins are thought to be entertaining and playful, which they can be, but they are also extremely sexual creatures. Dolphin mating is a complicated anatomical puzzle that is thought to enhance social relationships and be a joyful experience, with females possessing feel-good nerves in their clitorises. Object carrying has been recorded as a sexual display in Amazon River dolphins (Inia geoffrensis), with objects ranging from plants to stones and dirt. However, a group of Bolivian river dolphins was recently seen getting strange with a predatory anaconda, which is possibly the most odd of them.
Researchers working in the Bolivian Amazonia’s Beni floodplains observed a group of Bolivian river dolphins (Inia boliviensis). They looked to be more active than usual, spending more time with their heads above water than usual, allowing the researchers to identify a Beni anaconda (Eunectes beniensis) in the jaws of three of the dolphins. The “passing game” of The Anaconda is regarded to be an example of object play, which occurs when animals engage with a living or dead thing. This is also common among marine dolphins, who will transfer anything from sea sponges to powerful puffer fish during play (anything to get high).
The dolphins’ exact reasons are difficult to infer, however, the authors of a paper about the finding published in Ecology note that they don’t believe the involuntary playmate was eaten. The researchers found another interesting finding after studying images taken during the match. They added, “Afterwards, we were able to see on the images that the adult males were sexually aroused when engaged in object play with the anaconda.”
Male-male sexual activities aren’t uncommon among dolphins, so it’s likely that the adults were already involved in something that the anaconda stumbled into. By rubbing up against the item “play,” the animals may have been able to satisfy some of their needs. Aside from some dolphin delight, it is improbable that the anaconda had a pleasant time once caught up in the activity. According to The New York Times, scientist and co-author, Dr. Steffen Reichle of the Noel Kempff Mercado Museum of Natural History in Bolivia remarked, “I don’t think the snake had a very pleasant time.”
The snake was reportedly passed around for at least seven minutes, during which time the researchers observed it to be motionless and mostly maintained underwater. They believe it died during the meeting since it didn’t appear to be a long-dead snake with no clear symptoms of bloating or floating. Undoubtedly perplexing, but also significant, since the researchers claim it is the first recorded encounter between a Bolivian river dolphin and a Beni anaconda, even though the snake would give it a score of 0/10 and refuse to “play” again.