Grieving pink dolphin filmed cradling her dead calf in China

·2 min read

A rare mother dolphin was filmed cradling and pushing her lifeless baby along while she swam in the waters in China.

Mourning mother: On Sept. 3, a Chinese white dolphin, also known as an Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, was swimming with her deceased calf and a few others beside her near Zhanjiang in Guangdong Province, according to CGTN.

  • Every time the calf’s body would sink below the surface, she quickly ducks under to push its head up with her beak. She does not turn her attention away from the calf nor let go in the entire clip. The other dolphins circle by and appear to check up on her.

  • South China Sea Fisheries Research Institute’s Li Min said that dolphin mothers could go days mourning their children this way.

  • There is no clear tell of what resulted in the calf’s death without an autopsy.

  • Li said it could be “congenital health problems, an inexperienced mother or environmental pollution, such as noise or water pollution” or even infanticide from “intraspecific bullying,” where animals attack their own kind.





Rare dolphins: Chinese white dolphins, which are also called pink dolphins for their coloration when swimming in warm waters, are listed as “Vulnerable” under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN).

  • In October 2020, there were reports of pink dolphins returning between Hong Kong and Macau due to fewer ferries from the pandemic, according to AFP.

  • This was a welcome sight for the conservationists and marine scientists tracking them, but the trajectory of this dolphin population was still becoming worryingly low.

  • "Dolphins, and especially these estuarine dolphins, have a slow birth rate, a slow growth rate, a slow reproductive rate," Laurence McCook, the head of oceans conservation at WWF-Hong Kong said.

  • In August, a new report from the Hong Kong government also showed a shocking plummet in calf survival rates, with less than half of them living past two years and an 80% drop in their total population over the past 17 years due to human influences, according to SCMP.

  • WWF-Hong Kong believes there are only about 2,500 left in the Pearl River Delta area.





Featured Image via CGTN

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