Some river dolphins in Bolivia had a “play date” with a snake that has left some scientists wondering what exactly was going on:
In August 2021, a research team was documenting biodiversity near the Tijamuchi River in Bolivia when they saw some animals that are typically difficult to observe: Bolivian river dolphins.
Just seeing them with their heads above the river was extraordinary, said Steffen Reichle, a biologist at the Noel Kempff Mercado Museum of Natural History in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, and a member of the team. They knew something was up and started snapping photos.
Only after scrolling through the images the team captured did the researchers realize the dolphins were dangling an anaconda around as they swam.
The researchers described what they saw in the journal Ecology last month. While dolphins in captivity and the wild are known for being playful, the surprising behavior of the Bolivian cetaceans seems like a new frontier in frolicking among the aquatic mammals, and some scientists still aren’t sure what to think about what the team observed.
“I don’t think the snake had a very good time,” said one researcher with scientific understatement.