Dolphin Rams and Bites Japanese Beachgoers, Opening New Front in Ocean Rebellion

Dolphin Rams and Bites Japanese Beachgoers, Opening New Front in Ocean Rebellion

Like the orcas before them, the bottlenose dolphins have had enough. This past weekend, local reports from Japan noted several incidents of dolphins attacking and injuring swimmers, even in shallow waters.

Japanese outlet The Asahi Shimbun reported this weekend that one swimmer in his 60s was rammed by a dolphin swimming in the shallows on a beach in Fukui Prefecture. The incident happened in the early morning on Sunday, and the man received bites to his hands as well as several broken ribs. BBC also reported on a separate incident at the same beach who similarly suffered broken ribs and bites. Another two were reported injured in dolphin attacks later that same day.

Both reports noted that local police claimed there had been six dolphin attacks this season alone, though it remains unclear if all the attacks were perpetrated by the same creature.

Last year, officials noted a string of dolphin attacks in the area. Local tourism and aquarium operators told Vice that this was the first time they’d seen Dolphin-related complaints. The reports noted that most suspected the attacks were perpetrated by a single animal. Video from that time shows a dolphin circling a pair of swimmers and seemingly ramming into one of them.

Despite the common picture of dolphins being friendly, caring, and happy-go-lucky—like the dogs of the sea—dolphin attacks are not completely unheard of. Bottlenose dolphins have been shown to attack other members of the cetacean family. Nearly a decade ago, swimmers reported incidents of aggressive dolphins off the coast of Ireland. The creatures are damned smart, but researchers have noted that constant interaction with humans or being in heat could cause aggression.

But let’s not forget all the good reasons dolphins might have to attack wayward humans. Overfishing has wreaked havoc on dolphin populations, but human-porpoise relations have soured in general. Earlier this year, Hawaiian officials alleged several dozen swimmers harassed and “corralled” a pod of spinner dolphins, a protected animal species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Dolphins have been drafted as tools of war as well. In April, ecologists in Ukraine claimed that the ongoing war with Russia has led to the deaths of thousands of dolphins. Part of this is due to the disruptive nature of sonar on dolphins’ ability to hunt, another is due to the impact of underwater explosions.

Dolphins raised in captivity can also potentially become aggressive when seemingly provoked. Critics of these aquariums with dolphin enclosures claim that captivity, limited space, and poor diets help lead to these aggressive interactions. You don’t have to look too far back to find tabloids reporting scandalous dolphin attacks like a 2012 incident where a dolphin at SeaWorld bit a child at a feeding enclosure.

Other members of the dolphin family, the orcas, have become far more aggressive toward sailing vessels as of late. It’s unlikely that all cetaceans are forming an inter-species league of anti-human ambushers, but the ocean rebellion may just begin with small pockets of resistance before the full-scale revolution can be truly unleashed. A female sea otter in Santa Cruz, California has—for some unknown reason—started to aggressively attack surfers and steal their boards out from underneath them. As of Friday, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and local officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have said they have yet to apprehend the rogue mustelid.

Jess Fujii, the sea otter program manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said in a statement that “While the exact cause for this sea otter’s behavior is unknown, aggressive behavior in female southern sea otters may be associated with hormonal surges or due to being fed by humans.” While those explanations seem sound, the recent spate of oceanic attacks has us wondering which next sea-dwelling species will decide it’s had enough with humans and their ocean-based barbarity.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.