Do dolphins rape humans?

Comment on a dolphin-related question:

[I have] no idea if they rescue humans when drowning but I know that there are documented cases of them raping people! (as a side-note)

Beatrice the Biologist: Dolphin Sexual Harassment claims that dolphins sexually harass humans, but they don't rape humans.

Is It True that Dolphins Rape Human Swimmers? doesn't rule it out entirely, but says there isn't any evidence of dolphins raping humans, and claims some of the evidence of dolphins raping humans is suspect.

This isn't about whether dolphins rape dolphins - the latter acknowledges that dolphins do rape other dolphins.


2 Answers 2


Dolphins don't rape humans.

Raping a human requires the dolphin to be able to physically subdue a human, and taking off the human's clothes and the lack of opposable thumbs and hands really make it hard.

They can, however, "hump" a human and conduct themselves in a way that, if made by another human being, would constitute sexual harassment and molestation. Here are two videos as an example:

A dolphin with an erection shoving its snout to a woman's crouch:


A dolphin dry-humping a visitor in a water park.

All the claims about dolphins raping humans seem to be from this source, which which includes as its sources this picture:

dolphin rape

which is obviously a very bad Photoshop. They also mention Scott Randleston of the Dolphin Research Institute of Boca Raton as a source, the website for the institute doesn't mention Scott Randleston, and searching for his name just brings up this claim repeating.

This behavior is not limited only to humans, or even living creatures, as mentioned in this article by Jean-Pierre Sylvestre:

It's noted in Pilleri et al. (1980) when 3 toninas were kept at Duisburg Zoo in 1978 that the adult male 'Vater' once tried to rub its erect penis against a large brush lying on the tank floor.


There is no scientific evidence of that behavior, despite the rumours.

A Spanish marine biologist explains it in this article (Spanish).

There is no person who has officially reported the violation by a dolphin, nor are there scientific studies that study this supposed behavior of dolphins towards human beings. [Google Translate]


When in the heat season, some male dolphins are unable to suppress their sexual instincts and take advantage of an encounter with divers to harass them with their erect penis with the intention of letting off steam. [Google Translate]

The article includes a video as evidence.

  • Welcome to Skeptics! You say this is written by a marine biologist, but I couldn't see (in the translated version) an author's name or their credentials. Why do you think this is written by a marine biologist?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 1:04
  • 3
    If I understand the article, it is saying that male dolphins have never performed penetrative rape with a human, but have sexually harrassed and/or attempted rape. I feel so silly applying human legal distinctions to dolphins here. It seems to me the answer is really "Yes, dolphins do sometimes attempt to have sex with humans, and here is a video proving it. Whether that is considered 'rape' is a matter of semantics."
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 1:11
  • Article was written by Gemma Romero, marine biologist. I went a conference by her in University of Alicante last year. Yes, maybe is a matter of semantics. The article tries to explain that dolphins try to have sex with humans out of pure instinct. However, there have been no reported cases of rape as such.
    – Mary Dive
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 17:38

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