A mourning bottlenose dolphin has been carrying the body of her dead calf for days in New Zealand waters, conservation authorities say.
The mother is thought to have had a stillbirth early this week but had been holding onto the body, showing a strong maternal bond and even vocalising to the calf while travelling in the North Island’s Bay of Islands, the Department of Conservation says.
The struggle had also seen her separated from her group and left vulnerable at times.
“She has dropped the calf frequently as she tried to swim, and then circles back to retrieve it,” senior biodiversity ranger Catherine Peters said.
Authorities have called for boats in the busy bay to keep clear.
“The mother is grieving and needs space and time to do this,” Dr Peters said.
Earlier this year, a grief-stricken orca drew international attention after carrying her dead calf on her head for more than two weeks in the north Pacific.
Bottlenose dolphins are relatively common in temperate and tropical seas around the world.