Grieving Dolphin Mom Who Wouldn't Let Go Of Her Dead Baby Breaks People's Hearts

Grieving Dolphin Mom Who Wouldn't Let Go Of Her Dead Baby Breaks People's Hearts

“I wanted to believe it was a large redfish or something, but it quickly became apparent that it was a dead calf," said the man who filmed the heartbreaking sight. To him, it seemed to him like a funeral procession.

Grief comes in all shapes and sizes and it's the same, be it for humans or for animals. Michael McCarthy was reportedly canoeing through the Intracoastal Waterway near St. Petersburg, Florida when he spotted a dolphin swimming nearby. and she appeared to be cradling a small, limp body. Michael initially thought the dolphin was swimming around with her dinner, but upon closer inspection, a heartbreaking scene unfurled before him, according to The Dodo. “It took me a minute to accept what I was seeing when I first spotted the dolphin,” McCarthy, the owner of the See Through Canoe Company, said. 


“I wanted to believe it was a large redfish or something, but it quickly became apparent that it was a dead calf.” He quickly fished his camera out and started filming the whole thing, as it seemed to him like a funeral procession. She nuzzled the body of the calf and caressed it in grief. Surprisingly, she wasn't alone. Swimming alongside the grieving mother was a fellow dolphin, trying to comfort and protect her. 


"As the mother made her way north through the Intracoastal Waterway, other dolphins joined her for short distances and then went on their way," McCarthy said, "except for one dolphin that stayed with the mother the whole time." The calf seemed to have died in a motorboat accident. “Judging by the scar patterns on the calf it was likely hit by a boat propeller,” McCarthy said.


“I've spent most of my life on the water and a lot of time around manatees and dolphins so, unfortunately, I'm very familiar with what propeller wounds look like,” he added. This very reason why McCarthy was even more determined to capture the dolphin’s grief on film, in an effort to “help raise awareness to a problem I see all the time,” he noted. A common misunderstanding among boaters is that dolphins are “too fast to get hit,” adds McCarthy, but that's just not true. 


“The calves are even more vulnerable because they can't swim as fast and have to surface much more frequently for air,” he added. Previous studies have shown that cetaceans — dolphins and whales — show grief when they lose one of their own, especially when it comes to mothers losing their calves. McCarthy posted the video to Twitter last week, and it has since been viewed over 76,000 times.


He wrote: Mother #dolphin not ready to let go of her dead calf and pushing it through the Intracoastal Waterway. It's hard to say for sure without examination, but the calf may have been hit by a boat. Please don't assume that because #dolphins are fast that you won't hit them. #sad. In a comment, he added: It was really hard to watch. That image is going to be stuck in my head for a while. I saw a lot of boaters almost run over dolphin this past holiday weekend so I'm not really surprised. Just saddened


People were moved by it and took to the thread to comment.  @Cetalingua wrote: Yes, I see it too all the time, boats, jet skis racing in manatee zones, poor manatees trying to dodge it all. Dolphin calves probably cannot maneuver as well as their moms, just sad all around.  @DAlvearFOX46 added: This hurts my heart. In Miami where I grew up, its manatees who suffer from speeding boats. Mom to mom, I ache for that dolphin.


Another user @pamisabell wrote: An Orca carried her dead baby on her nose for 17 DAYS, refusing to let it go, until it was decomposed so bad she had to let it go. @Maurame777 added: It seems to me she was trying to get it up to breathe. Probably doesn't understand why the baby isn't swimming and thinks it needs air. Very sad no matter what she is thinking, she appears to be frantically trying to save it.


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