Image of a “Dolphins Rape People” sticker in lower Manhattan (via

As a street art observer, I pay careful attention to stickers, wheatpastes, illegal posters, stencils, spray-painted squiggles and marker markings. About a month or two ago, I noticed one particularly hilarious sticker all over Williamsburg that declared DOLPHINS RAPE PEOPLE.

I didn’t bother to Google the phrase, thinking it was an ad for a new band or some tongue-in-cheek humor. Today, our publisher sent me this link and my jaw dropped.

And yes, there are tshirts available through Aardvark NYC.

I consulted Wikipedia, my sage for all things bizarre, and it appears to be kinda real, though I don’t know if I can even start to believe the stats listed on the Aardvark site  (14 a year!?!?!?!). This Snopes thread is particularly entertaining to read.

Little did I know that there’s a whole body of videos related to this “fact” (I’m still going to use quotations marks on this one).

Now, thanks to @ardmara I have watched this incredibly bizarre video on the sex lives of dolphins narrated by Isabella Rosselini.

And they say illegal street postings don’t teach you anything. Fools.

A participant in Nate Hill’s “Free Bouncy Rides” (image via

Also, I have to say that this changes my perception of artist Nate Hill’s whole “Free Bouncy Ride” performance, which he does dressed as a dolphin, forever.

If anyone ever needs a street art work, sticker, ad or anything decoded. Feel free to send it to us using our CONTACT form. We’re here for you.

UPDATE: Finally a dolphin specialist has waded into the “Dolphin Rape” debate. The skinny is that the scientist, Justin Gregg, doesn’t believe that dolphins really “rape” in our understanding of the term. He writes:

In other words, if forced copulation should be considered the non-human animal equivalent to rape insofar as it appears (to the human observer) as if the female has not given consent, then this still has never been observed in dolphins. This fact alone is a strong argument against the use of the word rape to describe any dolphin mating strategies.

And this important point:

Despite documented mounting attempts involving dolphins and humans, I have found no verified accounts of a male dolphin having ever penetrated a human orifice with his penis (against their will or otherwise).

And finally:

In cases where males are directing their penises at the bodies and orifices of other dolphins where reproduction is not the goal, or engage in mounting behavior, the correct term is probably socio-sexual behavior. Again, socio-sexual behavior might involve consent, and does not always involve penetration or forced copulation.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

One reply on “Dolphins Rape People?”

  1. slander!

    you know what?  first sharks are the murderers, when we all know humans are.  then dolphins are the rapists, when we all know humans are.  what next, crabs are serial killers, walrus are way too into the s&m scene, otters are unrepentant thieves?

    well, okay, otters are unrepentant thieves, but that’s not the point!

    here’s just a word of advice, human persons.  when you go swimming with dolphins and you notice a kind of enthusiastic attention to your butt?  swim the hell away unless you like it.  and we know you do!

    (note from the dolphins:  we are pervs, not rapists.  also, isabella?  CALL US!)

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