Bullying is a strange subject to rationalize for a child. An adolescent bully’s view of the world tends to negatively pigeonhole differences in people, though this will often change as that person grows up. It’s harder to explain that kind of end game to the victim, whose fear and discomfort are seen through youthful eyes in which time seems to stand still, unable to understand that adulthood tends to come with far fewer antagonists. And you can’t explain any of that to a dolphin.
As reported in ScienceNow, marine biologists have discovered a bottle-nose dolphin mixing into a population of sperm whales. Behavioral ecologists Alexander Wilson and Jens Krause, of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, were observing sperm whales near the Archipelago of the Azores, over 900 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal. When they noticed a bit of nuzzling going on between the dolphin and the whales, it appeared that the dolphin was actually part of the group. The whales are slower swimmers, and usually leave an adult near the surface with the calves while the others dive deeper, so the dolphin even had protection that didn’t charge it $10 an hour, and $15 on weekends.
The dolphin has a serious spinal defect, resulting in an S-shaped curvature to its body, and it’s assumed that this malady is what caused its dolphin brethren to leave it behind. Even though dolphins are social creatures, the hierarchical aspects of their society apparently make them total douches in certain situations.
Meanwhile, sperm whales are rather standoffish right out the gate, though budding friendships with other creatures can form if there is a payoff to the symbiosis. And seeing as how bottle-nose dolphins are known for harassing sperm whale calves, their acceptance of the malformed dolphin, who doesn’t appear to be offering anything beyond companionship, is all the more puzzling.
Taken as an inspirational story or as an oceanic oddity, it’s comforting to know that out of all the things left to discover in nature, it remains constant that “no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” That’s a quote from Aesop, who once told a story about a dolphin who drowned a monkey for lying.