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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What happens in the ocean, stays in the ocean.

The dating scene can be tough under the salty surf, so forget using a wingman, in the deep blue- you need a "finman".

"They [male dolphins] work together and they have these stable bonds and they work together to get access to females for mating purposes," tells Dr. Quincy Gibson an assistant professor of Coastal Behavioral Biology at the University of North Florida.

Sound familiar? These male dolphin alliances or "bro-mances", if you will, is one of the behaviors Dr. Gibson is looking into.

The male dolphins team up to herd an attractive and fertile female from her pod specifically for one of the males.

"They swim in formation on the sides and behind the female and basically take her where they want her to go and keep her with them so she doesn't have the opportunity to mate with other males," explains Dr. Gibson.

Male dolphins will even team up with other dolphin "bro-mances" to steal a female away.

"It is teams of teams that are working together and that hasn't been seen in other animals except humans," tells Dr. Gibson.

For a male dolphin, choosing his "bro-mance" buddy is a big life choice. When they are juvenile dolphins, Dr. Gibson says they often hang out in larger pods, testing the waters so see who they want to form their alliance with. Then it is a often lifelong friendship.

"In the St. Johns River, there was a prior study in the early 90's that showed that some of those animals that are still here today were in alliance at that time. So we know that they are spending at least 10 to 15 years together," tells Dr. Gibson.

Female dolphins also group up into larger pods to protect their calves from predators or aggressive male dolphins.

So when you are out enjoying a day on the water, it is quite a soap opera happening in the sea beneath you.

For more information about Dr. Gibson and her research, check out this Facebook page.

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