Broken mother dolphin won’t let her baby goMichael McCarthy was canoeing along a coastal route near St. Petersburg, Florida, when he noticed a familiar silver flash in the water before his eyes. A dolphin was swimming nearby, and she seemed to be holding her little droopy body.
McCarthy initially thought the dolphin had just caught lunch, but as he watched, a heartbreaking scene unfolded before his eyes.
“When I first spotted a dolphin, it took me a minute to accept what I saw,” said Dodo McCarthy, owner of See Through Canoe. “I wanted to believe it was a big perch or something, but it soon turned out to be a dead calf.”
McCarthy pulled out her camera and began filming the dolphin mother’s funeral procession. She buried her nose in the calf’s body and caressed him with a dance of sorrow.
Fortunately, she was not alone. Another dolphin was swimming next to her, seemingly trying to protect and comfort her friend. “As her mother walked north through the Intracoastal Waterway, other dolphins joined her for a short distance and then went on,” McCarthy said.
The calf was the victim of a powerboat crash. She was something McCarthy witnessed all too often. “Judging by the scar on the calf, it was probably a propeller hit,” McCarthy said. “I’ve spent most of my life on the water and I’ve spent a lot of time with manatees and dolphins, so unfortunately I know very well what a propeller cut looks like.”
This, he said, made McCarthy even more determined to film Dolphin’s Sorrow “to help draw attention to the issues I see all the time,” he said.
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
McCarthy says there’s a common misconception among boaters that dolphins are “too fast to attack,” but that’s not the case. “Calves are much more vulnerable because they can’t swim that fast and have to float to the surface much more often to get air,” he added.
Previous research has shown that cetaceans (dolphins and whales) exhibit mourning behavior, particularly with mothers mourning dead calves.
McCarthy tweeted this video last week and has been viewed over 76,000 times since.
McCarthy tweeted, “It was really hard to see. “This image will remain in my head for a while.”