HEARTBREAKING footage shows a mother dolphin carrying the lifeless body of her dead calf through the water.
The poignant sight has reignited the debate that humans may not be the only mammals capable of grief.
In the video, the dolphin pushes her dead baby through a waterway in Indian Shores, Florida, seemingly unwilling to abandon the body.
The mother dolphin balances the carcass on her head while she swims, or uses her nose to push it along.
When the calf’s body slips beneath the surface, she dives down to rescue it without hesitation.
Another dolphin even appears to help the mother as she struggles to keep the body afloat.
The heartwrenching footage was shared on Twitter by Florida canoe-maker See Through Canoe.
‘NOT READY TO LET GO’
“Mother dolphin not ready to let go of her dead calf and pushing it through the intracoastal waterway,” the post reads.
“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.
It was really hard to watch. That image is going to be stuck in my head for a while.
“I saw a lot of boaters almost run over dolphin this past holiday weekend so I’m not real surprised. Just saddened.”
DO DOLPHINS GRIEVE?
This is not the first time dolphins have been spotted appearing to grieve for their dead young.
In April this year a dolphin was photographed carrying her dead baby after getting tangled in a crab net off the coast of Australia.
The heartbreaking image of Moon the dolphin was shared by a wildlife organisation in Perth.
In 2018, a study found that whales and dolphins have trouble letting go of their loved ones and hold “vigils” for the deceased.
Researchers from Dolphin Biology and Conservation at Oceancare in Cordenons, Italy, found the creatures mourn the death of their friends and family in a similar way to humans.
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The study analysed 78 records of aquatic mammals’ treatment of their dead between 1970 and 2016.
More than 90% of the dolphins studied were attentive to their dead, with grieving females making up three quarters of these interactions.
Some 75% of the incidents were of adult females looking after their dead calf, with some of them carrying decomposing bodies for up to a week.