When I saw the headlines about a dolphin snatching a woman’s iPad at Sea World I knew I was in for a good laugh, and I have to say the video delivers. I will admit as an iPad owner, I am also guilty of looking like a complete fool and seriously breaking status quo while taking photos using the device (the screen is so big!). However, this dolphin made this woman seriously regret her decision to use an iPad as a camera. Dolphins are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, and this video of a dolphin taking an iPad away from a woman taking photos of that dolphin creates a strong case for them being considerably smarter than humans as well. Watch below for yourself:

 

 

So now that you have watched the video (I watched it several times) you are probably still laughing at this woman’s misfortune at the hands of one of the most charismatic and beloved mammals of all time. While fairly common in this crazy modern world, many would still consider using an iPad for photography a social offense and this dolphin claps back real quick reminding the guest that this is his/her space and that he/she does not approve.

 

Examining the Video

While I have never been to this habitat at Sea World Orlando, I’m fairly certain that this woman was playing with fire when getting such a large device so close to a gregarious, curious animal like a dolphin. The video was shot by fellow park guest Kuadiel Gomez, a resident of Wesley Chapel, FL just visiting the park for the day with his season pass. Gomez witnessed the especially assertive dolphin knock the iPad from the woman’s hands into the habitat where he/she swims around in the water with it, very briefly, until the woman snatches the device back and storms off.

Now some of you may be wondering why the woman was allowed to get so close to the animal in the first place. The habitat where the incident occurred is a place where supervised interactions with the dolphins are permitted. It is important to note that these interactions normally include touch however and not iPad snatching. A Sea World employee did witness the incident however no intervention was necessary since it was lost and recovered so quickly. Later on, the employee was heard reminding Sea World guests to hang on tight to their belonging because dolphins can and WILL grab them from you if they so choose.

Basically, I feel like what we really learn from this situation is that using your iPad to take photos like a camera in a public place like SeaWorld when you have an iPhone in your other hand is ridiculous, and this dolphin clearly wanted to make sure the world knows it.

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A closer look at Bottlenose Dolphins

The mischievous gray face that successfully stole an iPad right out of a woman’s hands, is the face of a bottlenose dolphin. Bottlenose dolphins are one of the cetaceans in SeaWorld’s care and are a popular animal in many zoos and aquariums around the world. This more than likely accounts for them being one of the most well-known species of marine mammals in the ocean.

Bottlenose dolphins live in temperate and tropical ocean waters all over the world. They remain fairly coastal and populations often migrate to bays, estuaries and river mouths.  Bottlenose dolphins have a robust, sturdy build with short thick beaks or rostrum. They most commonly are shades of gray, ranging from light gray to black. They also have counter shading which means that their underside is lighter than their top or dorsal side. Bottlenose dolphins range in size depending on their region and sex. Generally, they range from 6 to 12.5 feet in length and weight anywhere from 300 to 1400 pounds with males slightly larger than females. Scientists have also noticed that inshore dolphins are smaller and lighter in color than offshore dolphins which tend to be larger and darker in coloration. Bottlenose dolphins are long living cetaceans. Males have an average lifespan of 40-45 years and females 50 years or more.  Bottlenose dolphin sexual maturity ranges from 5-13 years for females and 9-14 years for males depending on the region and individual. Gestation is about 12 months and the calves are weened at 18 to 20 months old.

Like most cetaceans, Bottlenose dolphins are social animals living in groups of generally 2-15 individuals however off shore groups have been observed as many as hundreds of individuals. These groups are commonly referred to as pods. Bottlenose dolphins are generalist predators. This just means that they feed on a wide variety of prey items native to their area. They forage booth individually and cooperatively with their pod members. Like other dolphin species, bottlenose dolphins use a high frequency echolocation or natural sonar to locate and capture their next meal. Being highly intelligent and social beings, they have a wide range of strategies when it comes to catching their prey.

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Bottlenose dolphin conservation

Unfortunately, being an ocean dwelling animal bottlenose dolphins face many threats in the ocean which include but are not limited to:

  • Injuries that can lead to mortalities from fishing gear used in commercial and recreational operations that are not disposed of properly.
  • Pollution
  • New diseases and toxins
  • Harvesting in Japan and Taiwan

Bottlenose dolphins are classified as Data Deficient on the IUCN red list so it is very important that why we are collecting this information that we conserve them. Data deficient means that we don’t know how many individual Bottlenose dolphins there are in the ocean.  They are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA 1972) which lists the stock as depleted. This act protects marine mammals in their natural environment and makes it completely illegal to approach, touch, feed, or interact with marine mammals in the ocean. It is very important to follow this law when in the ocean not only for the dolphin’s safety but for your own safety as well.

 

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References and photos courtesy of

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Dolphin-snatches-iPad-of-woman-taking-its-photo-9132270.php#photo-7234941

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2016/08/09/watch-dolphin-swipes-ipad-at-seaworld.html

http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/9/12417330/brave-dolphin-destroys-ipad-in-name-of-photography

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/dolphins/bottlenose-dolphin.html

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/bottlenose-dolphin/