When a golden retriever and a dolphin were seen swimming in tandem off the coast of Australia recently, the internet was quick to suggest that the animals were playing together. Most cases of interspecies "friendship" don't check out, but after weighing in with the experts, it does appear that this dolphin was in fact choosing to hang out with the swimming canine.


Some online commenters questioned why the marine mammal was swimming so close to shore, but Dr Justin Gregg, who studies dolphin social behaviour, explains that the clip doesn't show anything concerning. "It doesn't look listless or about to strand," he says. "The dolphin appears to be circling the dog, which should mean it's not too unhappy. Otherwise it would just swim away."

Professor Lars Bejder from the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit agrees: "In most coastal areas, including Rockingham [where this was filmed], we often see these bottlenose dolphins in shallow areas,” he told 9News Australia.

The likely explanation is that the dolphin swam inland in search of tasty fish, and while we can't exactly call this "play," it's safe to say the cetacean is at least curious about its furry canid neighbour.  

"When they see something novel, they want to check it out," says Bejder.

That said, the best thing to do in this situation would always be to call your dog back. Dolphins aren't dog hunters, but they're still wild animals with formidable teeth.


Top header image: Chess/Flickr