The fin crowd: A brief look at delphinophilia

Of all the books about zoophilic activity, one of the strangest is Wet Goddess, a novel by Malcolm Brenner based on his nine-month sexual relationship with a dolphin living at the Floridaland amusement park. Back in 1970, while studying at New College of Florida (Sarasota), Brenner had a relationship with a dolphin called Dolly. Brenner claims the dolphin made the first moves in their relationship. I have to admit that when it comes to dolphins and human sex, the only thing that came to mind before researching this article is the phrase waxing the dolphin one of the many euphemisms for male masturbation.

In a 2011 interview with the Huffington Post, Brenner said that Dolly became “more and more aggressive. She would thrust herself against me. I found that extraordinarily erotic. It’s like being with a tiger or a bear. This is an animal that could kill you in two seconds if it wanted to”. Brenner claimed the relationship ended when Dolly was moved to an oceanarium following the closure of the amusement park in Florida where Dolly was housed. In his interview he further added:

“I had every intention of going to visit the dolphin when I got back to the South, but it didn’t work out that way. I learned the hard way that dolphins are chattel, and much more emotionally vulnerable than I had ever imagined…Some people find it hard to imagine that I wasn’t abusing the animal. They didn’t see me interacting with the dolphin. They weren’t there. These creatures basically have free will. What is repulsive about a relationship where both partners feel and express love for each other? I know what I’m talking about here because after we made love, the dolphin put her snout on my shoulder, embraced me with her flippers and we stared into each other’s eyes for about a minute. This was not some dog trying to hump my leg, okay. This was a 400-lb. wild-born female dolphin. She was an awesome creature…As self-aware mammals, dolphins are capable of making profound emotional attachments to other dolphins and, apparently, to selected humans as well. A dolphin can die of loneliness, of a broken heart, of separation anxiety.”

Brenner’s story may be not as unique as one might first imagine. In 1991, a 38-year old British man, Alan Cooper, was accused of masturbating a tamed dolphin (called Freddie) in front of a number of swimmers in Northumbria (England), and charged with performing a “lewd act”. At Cooper’s trial, expert witnesses testified that male dolphins use their penile erections socially as well as sexually. As a consequence, Cooper was acquitted as it couldn’t be proved that the act was sexual. However, there are a range of websites that give practical advice on how to have sex with a dolphin, and how to tell if they want sex (such as the Sexwork website) as well as websites devoted totally to dolphin lovers (such as the Delphinophile website). There are also dozens of online confessions about either having sex (or wanting to have sex) with dolphins on the Beast Forum (be warned, these are very sexually explicit and all involve zoophilic activity). A recent online essay also examined the case of ‘Dragon-wolfe’, a self-confessed delphinophile who reported that:

“[Dolphins] enjoy the company of humans, and if a relationship develops between a human and a dolphin, as has happened with me, they will, on occasion, wish to express their trust and affection for you in the most direct way; through mating, or sex-play…One thing to note. Whether you masturbate or mate a fin, male or female, always spend time with them afterwards. Cuddle them, rub them, talk to them and most importantly show them you love them. This is essential, as it helps to strengthen the bond between you. Like a way of saying that this wasn’t just a one night fling. The dolphins appreciate it and they will want your company more the next time you visit them”.

So what do academics have to say about delphinophilia? The most recent studies of zoophilia since 2000 have typically collected their data online from non-clinical samples. This has included studies by Dr Andrea Beetz (University of Erlangen, Germany; 32 zoophiles), Dr Colin Williams and Dr Martin Weinberg (of Indiana University, USA; 114 zoophiles), and Dr Hani Miletski (Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco, USA; 93 zoophiles). In all three studies, the most commonly preferred animals were either dogs or horses. However, sex with dolphins was not unheard of in these samples. For instance, the study of 114 zoophiles by Williams and Weinberg notes that one of the zoophiles had engaged in delphinophilia. Similarly, the study by Beetz also found one person whose preferred animal to have sex with was a dolphin. She also reported that when it came to animals favoured in masturbation fantasies, a total of two people (7%) favoured dolphins. In a interview with seven erotic dancers, Tim Keefe interviewed the ‘Manx Minx’ who as part of her interview admitted that:

“Currently, my favorite non-human fantasy has to do with going to Marine World and getting a job as an underwater mermaid and having the dolphins try to get me when I go in to feed them after the place closes. I majorly want to have sex with a dolphin, and I don’t know if I will ever get the chance. That’s my big quirk fantasy for the moment. They’re so smart, they must be good lovers, you know”.

If you really want to read about examples of human-dolphin sex, then check out an article on delphinophilia at the Vivid Random Existence website. There is a long online essay collating human’s experiences of having sex with dolphins. The author – a self-admitted zoophile – makes the following observations (ones which I feel duty bound to point out that I don’t personally agree with):

“There is nothing wrong with having sex with dolphins, so long as the dolphin consents to sex. As discussed in other posts, animals can consent to sex by using body language; they do not need to speak a human language to communicate what they want and don’t want. In addition, it is very clear when a dolphin does and does not want to have sex. And according to Internet sources, people have personally experienced dolphins becoming aroused at the sight of a human…People have had sex with dolphins, and from what these people described, both participants (the human and the dolphin) were satisfied by their blissful interactions…Additionally, remember that dolphins themselves are often sexually attracted to humans, in a phenomenon known as ‘reverse bestiality’. They have been known to demonstrate their attraction by making their bodies turn a pinkish color, and through certain behaviors. Of course, due to the taboo associated with bestiality and zoophilia, the ‘reverse bestiality’ dolphin fact will probably never be discussed by the mainstream media”.

My own brief look at delphinophilia certainly comes to the conclusion that it exists among a small minority of zoophiles, and that this has been confirmed by academic researchers in the zoophilia field. However, as I wrote in a my previous blog on herpetophilia (i.e., zoophilic activity between humans and lizards), the animals cannot give informed consent, so therefore such sexual activity is morally wrong. I am in agreement with Dr. Denise Herzing (of the Wild Dolphin Project in the US) who was reported as saying:

“Glorifying human sexual interactions with other species is inappropriate for the health and well being of any animal. It puts the dolphin’s own health and social behavioral settings at risk.”

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Beetz, Andrea (2002). Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals. Germany: Shaker Verlag.

Brenner, M. (2009). Wet Goddess. Eyes Wide Open.

Farrier, D. (2011). Dolphin man Malcolm Brenner follow-up Q&A. 3 News, September 23. Located at:

Goebel, J. (2012). Zoophilia: Thinking through trans-species sexuality. A Geology of Borders, March 30. Located at:

Keefe, T. (2005). Some of my best friends are naked: Interviews with seven erotic dancers. In R. Kick (Ed.), Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong (pp.191-205).  New York: The Disinformation Company.

McCormack, S. (2011). Malcolm Brenner Chronicles his sexual relationship with dolphin in ‘Wet Goddess’. Huffington Post, September 29. Located at:

Vivid Random Existence (2010). Delphinic zoosexuality (or zoophilia): The sexual attraction to dolphins. December 5. Located at:

Wikipedia (2012). Zoophilia and the law. Located at:

Williams, C. J., & Weinberg, M. S. (2003). Zoophilia in men: A study of sexual interest in animals. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 523–535.

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 600 research papers, four books, over 130 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on October 29, 2012, in Case Studies, Compulsion, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Funny how the “informed consent” issue comes up… what did you have for lunch, Doc, and did you get its “informed consent” before you killed it and ate it, or artificially inseminated it, or stole its milk? “Informed consent” is only an issue when pure pleasure is involved, and OF COURSE FEMALE ANIMALS GIVE CONSENT, otherwise every act of mating in the animal kingdom would be rape, and simple direct observation shows this is not so. Ultimately, female animals give consent by letting the male mount them, and this consent is “informed” by their state of estrus. So your conclusion strikes me as dogmatic, pedantic and ultimately unscientific.

    • Thank you for your comments Malcolm. Ultimately this is a case of us agreeing to disagree. The simple definition of ‘informed consent’ in most dictionaries is “consent given with full knowledge of the risks involved, probable consequences, and the alternatives” and as such can only be applied to humans. As a scientist, I have to use operational definitions in every scientific paper I ever publish. Yes I am pedantic (most scientists are). I am occasionally dogmatic. Unscientific? Not knowingly. Best wishes. Mark

  2. Answer me this:

    To say that animals cannot consent is to say that every instance of sex between animals of every species on the planet, EXCEPT HUMANS, is rape. Does that seem like a logical or scientific claim on your part? Can you prove that all sex except between humans is rape? Sounds like quite a difficult thing to prove.

    In addition, the concern for animal consent itself implies that you care about animal consent in all situations, as opposed to only sex. If you are not a die-hard vegan, then your issue of consent is hypocritical, as I can guarantee that no animal you’ve ever eaten or drank the milk of has consented to give you their meat or milk.

  3. Andrew Randrianasulu

    Well, dolphins are quite…strange beings. Check out “ORGANIZATION OF COMMUNICATION SVSTEM IN TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS MONTAGU by
    Vladimir I. Markov and Vera M. Ostrovskaya”, in Sensory Abilities of Cetaceans, New York, 1990.

    And then read (carefully!) Herman’s work: Body and self in dolphins
    Louis M. Herman – Consciousness and Cognition, 2011

    So, this is OK to train (via quite outdated, and disrespectful method – all current dolphin training based on dogmatic behaviorism from 50x!) female dolphin to toss things with her genitalia ….. and eventially just look as this and how she and other dolphins die in small tanks?! So much love! Thanks, but even if I use Herman’s work [not just this paper, obviously] as argument for dolphin’s mental power – I’ll really prefer to have *someone else* around dolphins on their way to freedom!

    And apparently there was at least one (fictional) book where idea about human/dolphin marriage _as way to give dolphins some legal rights_ was explored, see
    If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him . . ., Sharyn McCrumb. New York: Fawcett Gold Medal, 1995. (CF)
    Trisha: In this legal novel about a fledgling lawyer, Bill MacPherson, his feminist legal partner, A. P. Hill, his forensic anthropologist sister, Elizabeth, and two murder cases, Bill takes on a side case involving a woman who wants to marry a dolphin. He at first thinks it is a ridiculous idea, but then becomes intrigued with its possibilities as a civil rights case and in proving the personhood of the dolphin.

    So, from this standpoint … I’d really prefer someone to stand up and take responsibility at this level! well…. this someone might be me:/ Because I also had very memoirable moments with captive dolphins – no sex between us, yet those captives also (secretely! even from officials…like anyone in Russia really cares about Black sea dolphins …who, in theory, should be strictly protected ….) died, were moved to some traveling circus, etc! So, I was really touched by similarities between Malcolm’s story and my own – even if we live at different continents and our dolphin events were separated by some 30+ years of time.

    Our desire to ‘kiss’ or ‘hug’ someone definitely borders with sexual behavior – yet it all sold in dolphinariums, for money! So, we have something bordering on forced, unvoluntary prostitution !:/ But somewhat _this_ is acceptable …. people, look into mirror. Dolphins, like humans, great apes and elephants recognize themselves in it … But here I ask you to do it sybolically – look at that we do or allow others to do (yes, forced capture, tagging etc IS wrong way of doing research) with cetaceans, dolphins. Look at how we ‘fuck’ them in worst imaginable ways. Please, help us to stop this!

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