Male Dolphins Leave Sponging to the Females

By | December 12, 2008

Male Dolphins Leave Sponging to the Females

Sexual stereotypes are not the preserve of humans. Male dolphins, it seems, are not interested in learning how to use a sponge, but their sisters are.

Dolphins were first seen carrying sponges cupped over their beaks in Shark Bay, Australia, in the 1980s.

Janet Mann of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and colleagues have now reviewed data collected during 20 years spent monitoring this group of dolphins and found that, while mothers show both their male and female calves how to use sponges, female calves are almost exclusively the only ones to apply this knowledge.

“The daughters seem really keen to do it,” says Mann. “They try and try, whereas the sons don’t seem to think it’s a big deal and hang out at the surface waiting for their mothers to come back up.”

Solitary spongers Sponger dolphins shuffle their beak around in the sand, apparently using the sponge as protection. When they ferreted out a hidden fish, the dolphins drop the sponge and catch the prey. – newsci via abcnews

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