NSFW? Octopus Bums Ride on Bottlenose Dolphin’s Private Parts

A dolphin researcher in Greece was surprised to see a cephalopod attached to a breaching dolphin.

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NSFW? Octopus Bums Ride on Bottlenose Dolphin’s Private Parts
(Photo: Courtesy Joan Gonzalvo)

Was the eight-armed passenger trying to avoid being eaten, just hitching a ride, or playing some sort of X-rated, naughty prank?

That’s the question dolphin expert Joan Gonzalvo asked when he saw a bottlenose dolphin leap out of the Ionian Sea off the Greek island of Kalamos with a large octopus attached to its underside.

"I have never seen anything like this," said Gonzalvo, who studies dolphins as part of the Ionian Dolphin Project. "My hypothesis is that the dolphin might have attacked—tried to prey on the octopus—and somehow to avoid it, the octopus just attached to the dolphin's belly."

Gonzalo wrote about the sighting in the Dolphin Project Blog, titling the story “Naughty Octopus” in reference to the location where the cheeky cephalopod latched on to the female dolphin.

"Right on the spot we were not sure about what exactly was hanging from the dolphin's belly," Gonzalvo wrote. "What was our surprise when we examined the photos and discovered that naughty octopus!"

The dolphin made two leaps before shaking the octopus loose and resuming its swim with the pod.

Thanks to the New Scientist for this story.

Riddle us this: The octopus attached itself to the dolphin's belly a) to escape being eaten b) because he was sick of the sea and needed a break c) something else?


Jocelyn Heaney is an English instructor, animal activist and freelance writer for L.A. Review of Books and Warner Bros. Pictures, among others. Her favorite animals are great white sharks, horses and all cats. She is currently at work on a memoir. Email Jocelyn | @JocelynHeaney