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Mr. Octopus' wild ride

June 19, 2012|By Thomas H. Maugh II
  • Off of the Greek island of Kalamos, an octopus attached itself to a dolphin's belly and took a wild ride.
Off of the Greek island of Kalamos, an octopus attached itself to a dolphin's… (Joan Gonzalvo / Tethys Research…)

It was not exactly Mr. Toad's wild ride. More like a roller coaster ride. An octopus attached itself to a female dolphin's belly and went for a short ride off the island of Kalamos in the Ionian Sea. This unusual behavior was observed by Joan Gonzalvo of the Tethys Research Institute in Milan, Italy, who wrote about it on his blog.

Gonzalvo photographed a dolphin jumping out of the water with what appeared to be something attached to its belly. The dolphin made two jumps before the object was dislodged. On the spot, the research team couldn't tell what the object was. When Gonzalvo later examined the photographs, however, he observed what he called a "naughty octopus" clinging to the dolphin atop its genital slit.

He speculated to New Scientist that the dolphin might have been trying to eat the octopus and that the octopus attached itself to the dolphin's belly in an effort to avoid the dolphin's mouth. Such leaps out of the water are common among dolphins who are trying to dislodge anything attached to their skin, such as barnacles.

Once the object was dislodged, the unharmed dolphin swam away with three of its mates.

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Twitter/@LATMaugh

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