Skip to content
Risso's dolphin © WDC/Nicola Hodgins

Dolphin headstands are puzzling the experts at WDC

WDC dolphin field workers in Scotland are puzzled by the sight of a Risso’s dolphin performing underwater 'headstands'. They filmed this Risso’s dolphin near the Isle of Lewis – he or she was nose down vertically beneath the water doing a headstand!

Although other dolphins have been seen performing headstands in the wild, their tails have always been sticking up in the air. This Risso’s dolphin is the first fully submerged headstand caught on film - and it is puzzling the experts.

Perhaps the dolphin is pausing in a good position to listen to calls from other dolphins?  Or maybe it’s a comfortable position to rest in? Or it could just be simply that it feels nice or is good fun to bob upside-down like this!

WDC has been studying and protecting Risso’s dolphins living near the Isle of Lewis for many years. Our work helped ensure this important area became a marine protected area in 2020.

Risso's dolphins are very stocky with blunt shaped heads (no beak). Although they start out in life a grey/olive brown colour, as they get older they get whiter and whiter – a result of numerous scars and scratches inflicted by other Risso’s dolphins and their favourite food, squid! The area off Lewis is visited by large numbers of mothers and calves as it has a good supply of both squid and octopus.

Leave a Comment