Dolphins have often been cited as having similar emotional feelings as humans. A heartbreaking video reveals how this may be the case in yet another instance, showing a mother dolphin apparently mourning the death of her calf.
For three days, the parent was seen toting the calf against her dorsal fin in the waters off the coast of China. According to the Daily Mail, the baby dolphin even slipped off the mothers back and began to sink a couple times, but she brought it back up.
Watch this NTD TV news report where the host calls the photos "graphic and also fairly depressing":
This isn't the first time a dolphin has been seen mourning a calf in such a way either. The Daily Mail has more:
In the past, researchers have observed dolphins carrying or pushing stillborn calves or those that die in their infancy.
They sometimes stay with their dead baby for several days. Mourning rituals are rare in the animal kingdom, but have also been observed in whales, elephants, chimps and gorillas.
While experts are reluctant to attribute human emotions to animals, the behaviour seems to show that dolphins have some awareness of mortality – and may even contemplate their eventual death.
Researcher Joan Gonzalvo, of the Tethys Research Institute in Italy, observed a similar scene of a mother carrying its dead calf on its back. He said that the mother seemed unable to accept the death.
The Sun has more from spectators sharing their thoughts on the scene:
Fisherman Luo Lieqiangre said "The sea was rough when we saw the dolphins."
"The little dolphin was dead for two or three days, but its mother still stayed with it and carried it day and night, which has touched all of us and the tourists.
"Just like human beings, dolphins also have feelings. A mother's love is noble and moving," said a fisherman surnamed Su.
It is unclear how the dolphin calf died, but the Daily Mail speculates it could have been killed by a boat propeller.