4 Fucked-Up Things About Dolphins You Won’t See In Dolphins


If you’ve been wanting to watch a documentary with more ocean friends and less murder, Disneynature has got your back. On Friday, the company’s documentary branch released the trailer for the appropriately titled Dolphins, a film that looks less The Cove and more like something you’d want to see two days before its actual release date on April 22, 2018.

An homage to the most popular animal to get airbrushed on a t-shirt in 1999, Dolphins makes Disneynature’s other dolphin-including documentary Oceans look like There Will Be Blood. It’s cute, very pretty, and it gives us the chance to follow around a dolphin named Echo while “he learns how to survive and find his place in this extraordinary world.” That is a lovely sentiment, but far from the whole picture: There are some pretty fucked-up things that happen in the life of a dolphin. Here are four screwed up facts that you probably won’t see in Dolphins, and if you do, then damn, Disney, I should have had more faith.

Dolphins Love Drama

Dolphins live in what scientists call an “open society,” which means that they basically live in the fucking Wild West. Ranges of dolphin pods overlap with each other, and without clear boundaries, there are plenty of squabbles between dolphins as they compete for both territory and mates.

“I work on the male dolphins, and their social lives are very intense; it seems there is constant drama,” dolphin researcher Richard Connor told NBC News. “I have often thought, as I watched their complicated alliance relationships, that their social lives would be mentally and physically exhausting, and I’m glad I’m not a dolphin.”

Dolphins are so much drama.

Wikimedia Commons

Dolphins Sometimes Murder

While dolphins aren’t as murderous as, say, humans (more on that below), they are not chill, either. There’s evidence that dolphins murder porpoises with their sharp teeth, club-like beaks, and their 12-foot-long bodies. Scientists have also documented some, albeit rare, cases of infanticide among dolphins: In the journal Marine Mammal Science, marine biologists observed male dolphins trying to drown the first bottlenose dolphin ever observed being born in the wild. Somehow, I suspect, infanticide will not be included in Dolphins.

A different vibe.


Humans Murder and Capture Dolphins

The terrible reality is that dolphins are herded up and either captured or killed by humans every year. This is predominantly documented in Japan, where the government permits fisherman to hunt an estimate of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales a year. This practice, shown in the documentary The Cove, results in either the sale of dolphin meat or the trafficking of dolphins to marine parks around the world. Japanese aquariums alone are estimated to receive 124 dolphins a year from the annual dolphin drive.

Dolphins Can Be Sexually Scary

To show dominance, male dolphins sometimes mount and attempt to rape each other. They are equally, if not more so, aggressive with female dolphins in an attempt to mate. Scientists call this “sexual coercion” which is, at the end of the day, the same thing as forced sex. Female dolphins sometimes form alliances to keep away male dolphins, who will try to force females into staying near their pod even when they’re not ovulating. Not a great job there, dolphins.

Dolphins, which will include none of these scenarios, comes out on Earth Day in 2018. Watch the official trailer here:

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