‘Grieving’ dolphin in New Zealand spotted holding dead calf, officials say

Officials in New Zealand on Friday warned of a grief-stricken bottlenose dolphin who was spotted carrying around a deceased calf in the country’s Bay of Islands this week.

The initial sighting of the baby, thought to have been stillborn, happened on Tuesday and the adult animal is showing “strong maternal bond behavior,” such as “carrying the calf on her back,” New Zealand’s Department of Conservation said in a news release.

“The mother is grieving and needs space and time to do this,” Dr. Catherine Peters, Senior Ranger Biodiversity, DOC, said in the news release.

She went on to address businesses in the area, saying that the “female needs everyone on the water to give her the extra space and respect she needs whilst she copes with her loss.”

The female has occasionally been split up from her group, “leaving her vulnerable,” officials said. She has often dropped the deceased baby while swimming before ultimately turning around to get it, they added.

DOC officials also provided a list of things to keep in mind when going near dolphins while in a boat.

A similar occurrence was captured in devastating photos in July, which showed a grieving orca carrying her calf on her head after it died shortly after its birth.

Ken Balcomb, a senior scientist with the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, Washington State, said the mother was spotted at the time propping the newborn on her forehead and trying to keep it near the surface of the water off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia.

Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report.

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