Body Language in Bottlenose Dolphins
When you are involved in watching and studying bottlenose dolphin behaviour for any length of time, you begin to notice certain body positions that occur every so often and one that fascinates me is an activity known as “S” posturing. What happens is, as you can see in my recent photo below of ID#1018 “Bodhi” (one of the cheeky sub-adult males) the dolphin breaches from the water and holds its body in a rigid “S” shape with the head raised and the pectoral fins held out stiffly from the body. As the dolphin falls towards the water ready for re-entry, the dolphins head and chin is forcefully slapped on the water and this complete activity can be repeated many times. Theories for this type of dolphin “body language” favour a state of annoyance or irritation, directed at either another dolphin or possibly an unfamiliar inanimate object in the dolphins’ large territory, such as a boat. I love watching behaviour like this as I think that it just adds to the fascination that we have with these sensitive and highly intelligent marine mammals who have a very complicated social life and structure. This is yet another reason why no cetacean should ever be confined to a cramped and filthy tank.
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