Off the coast of New Zealand, a group of marine biologists has discovered a mother bottlenose dolphin that had adopted a pilot whale calf.
The one based on kiwi Far Out Ocean Research Collective discovered the mammals sailing in the Bay of Islands in northern New Zealand, and has now documented the pair on two separate occasions five weeks apart.
While it is not uncommon for dolphins to adopt babies from other species, it is very rare to record the phenomenon with such a significant difference in the size of the species. Bottlenose dolphins can reach 300 kilograms, which is not a small fry, except that pilot whales can grow up to two tons and reach six meters in length.
“She could have lost her own calf”, researcher Jochen Zaeschmar told local reporters of the dolphin behavior.
The independent reported In 2019, researchers in French Polynesia found a bottlenose dolphin that had adopted a baby melon-headed whale, and that the pair stayed together for three years.
Scientists do not know exactly why this happens, and there are hypotheses that a maternal instinct is misplaced, perhaps accentuated if a mother dolphin has lost her calf and finds a calf that has lost its mother. However, the French Polynesian researchers, reflecting on their published article on the finding, suggested that it could be part of the mother’s “personality,” which is an endearing thought.
Regardless of what unites them, these adoption cases only last as long as the weaning stage, as the whaling and dolphin hunting patterns are so different, and at that moment the adopted whale manages to go out into the world alone.
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