deformed dolphin, sperm whale

photo: Alexander D. M. Wilson

900 miles off the coast of Portugal near the Azores Islands, scientists spotted a Bottlenose Dolphin with a unique deformity¬† – its spine was curved into an ‘S’ shape. The two behavioral ecologists from German marine research firm Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries watched as the dolphin played with and nuzzled the whales over a period of 8 days.The whales even reciprocated the friendly behavior.

deformed dolphin, sperm whale

photo: Alexander D. M. Wilson

“It really looked like they had accepted the dolphin for whatever reason,” says Alexander Wilson, in a report from Science Magazine. “They were being very sociable.”

Scientists could only speculate why the whales had taken a liking to the deformed dolphin. Most likely, the dolphin had been bullied by its pod because of its scoliosis and sought friendship amongst slower, friendlier marine mammals. Whatever the reason, the group seemed to be really enjoying one another’s company.

deformed dolphin, sperm whale

photo: Alexander D. M. Wilson