The Dana Point Times
In an apparent state of grief, an adult bottlenose dolphin was seen carrying a young, deceased calf on its back Tuesday near Dana Point.
“In my nearly 20 years on the water whale watching I have never seen this behavior,” said Capt. Dave Anderson of Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari in a press release. “Nor have I ever seen anything quite as moving as this mother who refuses to let go of her poor calf.”
With the calf situated against its dorsal fin, the dolphin struggled to swim near the water’s surface in what Anderson believed to be an attempt to allow the deceased calf to breathe. The pair was surrounded by others, almost as if being protected by the pod, he said.
“The last thing I expected to see today was a funeral procession,” said Tony Green, a passenger aboard the boat at the time of the sighting. “It was pretty profound to see the emotions that those animals can feel and how much they are really like we are.”
Anderson said he believed the calf had been dead for many days and possibly weeks, as the animal’s skin was decaying. Another boat confirmed seeing the dolphin an hour later still carrying the calf.
According to Anderson, half of all bottlenose calves die before their second birthday, from disease or predators. He added that more than 300,000 dolphins and whales worldwide die each year because of fishing gear entanglement.
Video courtesy of Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, www.dolphinsafari.com.