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Stunning image of dolphins with an anaconda snake in Bolivia amazes scientists

Dolphins who were clicked carrying the anaconda snake in their mouth were according to scientists either playing with it or may have eaten it

Nature continues to amaze and fascinate us every now and then. Take for example the extraordinary image of the Bolivian river dolphins swimming in the water with a Beni anaconda snake in their mouths.

What makes this picture novel, as per a report in sciencealert.com is the fact that these dolphins are not seen much and it is definitely unusual for them to be seen with the snake and that too a predatory anaconda.

Dolphins are known to be playful and in their fun-loving capers, other creatures may be a part, willingly or otherwise.

This picture was clicked in August 2021 in Bolivia near the Tijamuchi river where scientists witnessed a group of dolphins staying above water for an unusual time. It was on seeing the pictures closely did they realise what was going on.

In a paper, the researchers wrote: "After checking on the first images we realized that a snake was handled by [the dolphins], and while it was difficult to estimate their group size, there were at least six of them. It became clear that they rather were playing with the snake than trying to eat it."

In more than one way the dolphins connected with the snake and it was generally confined to the same area. Dolphins interacting in such a manner are rare and the scientists suggest that they may be instructing each other about the snake or may be even playing or eating it.

Another view suggests that this high-spirited activity may be sexual in nature. Mentioning this in their paper, the researchers wrote: “Afterwards, we were able to observe on the photographs that the adult males were sexually aroused while engaging in object play with the anaconda. There were juveniles on the scene as well, and it seemed that the adults were showing off the snake to them."

This particular species of anaconda or Eunectes beniensis can grow up to six-and-a-half feet and its habitat is the same as that of the Bolivian river dolphin or Inia geoffrensis boliviensis. The two creatures live in the north-eastern Bolivian Amazon rainforest.

These dolphins which live in rivers are rather difficult to watch and study since the water is muddier and to navigate in them is more difficult than oceans. Yet, even if some of the details of this event are not so clear, it definitely helps scientists to know more about these elusive creatures and how they spend their time. It is vital considering that these creatures are threatened with extinction.

The whole episode probably did not turn out well for the snake as during the entire activity of the dolphins, there was no movement in the reptile and it was under the water for a long time. Thus, scientists feel that it may have been dead by the end of the activity.

Talking to New York Times, a member of the team, biologist Steffen Reichle from Bolivia’s Noel Kempff Mercado Natural History Museum said: “I don't think that the snake had a very good time.”

Details of the research were published in Ecology.