Contrary to what most people think, animals experience pain too. Even if it’s in a different form, the impact is still the same. And animals, just like humans, grieve when they lose something important to them. That includes losing their offspring.
Michael McCarthy didn’t think he’d spotted anything extraordinary when he went canoeing near St. Petersburg, Florida.
At first, he thought he’d simply seen a dolphin carrying its dinner. However, upon taking a closer look, he saw something that will be with him for a long time. The dolphin was actually carrying a dead calf.
It was just heartbreaking to watch.
The dolphin was nuzzling the body of the calf and looked to be grieving and mourning over her loss— not just like a human mother might do.
The mother dolphin continued its funeral procession and Michael soon saw she. wasn’t alone. There was another dolphin swimming beside her. It looked as if it was comforting the mother. Then a few more dolphins joined her before going their own way.
“As the mother made her way north through the Intracoastal Waterway, other dolphins joined her for short distances and then went on their way,” Michael said.
Based on the scar patterns on thecalf, Michael believes it may have been hit by a motorboat.
After spending years on the water, Michael knows what propeller wounds look like— and dolphins getting hit by boat propellers is a lot more common than people think.
Despite the heartbreaking scene, Michael decided to take out his camera and film it. His main goal was to increase awareness and to let people know that dolphins are vulnerable creatures. Humans should learn to be more careful when they’re in the same waters.
This isn’t the first time that aquatic animals were seen showing grief after losing an offspring.
Sometime in August of 2018, there was a report of a mother Orca that was seen carrying her dead baby while grieving. Another case was reported in February about a female bottlenose dolphine doing the same thing.
These cases prove how animals, just like humans, experience pain and grief with the loss of a child. Although they aren’t able to express what they are feeling through words, their actions say everything we need to know— and compared with other marine animals, dolphins are considered to be 18 times more likely to express such behavior.
What Michael saw that day is something he (and the rest of us) won’t be able to forget anytime soon.
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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 pic.twitter.com/Le2MAwvPIB
— See Through Canoe (@SeeThroughCanoe) June 3, 2019