When Michael McCarthy noticed the recognizable flash of silver in the water in front of him, he was canoeing across the Intracoastal Waterway close to St. Petersburg, Florida. There was a dolphin swimming close, and it seemed like she was carrying a little, lifeless body.
McCarthy initially believed the dolphin had just caught her supper, but as he continued to watch, a tragic event unfolded in front of him.
“When I initially observed the dolphin, it took me a moment to realize what I was seeing. I wanted to think it was a big redfish or something, but it was a dead calf”, McCarthy, the proprietor of the See Through Canoe Company, said in an interview.
McCarthy pulled out his camera and started to document the mother dolphin’s last journey. She danced a ballet of mourning, stroking her calf’s body.
She was lucky to not be alone. She was swimming next to another dolphin who appeared to be trying to shield and reassure his companion. With the exception of one dolphin that remained with the mother the entire time, other dolphins briefly joined the mother as she traveled through the Intracoastal Waterway in the direction of the north, according to McCarthy.
McCarthy said that this strengthened his resolve to document the dolphin’s anguish in order to “help bring awareness to a situation I witness all the time.”
According to McCarthy, it’s a frequent misperception among boaters that dolphins are “too swift to being hit,” but this is untrue. The calves are considerably more at risk due to their slower swimming speed and increased need to surface for breath, the expert continued.
According to earlier research, mothers of cetacean animals, such as dolphins and whales, particularly those who have lost young, exhibit grieving behaviors.
McCarthy shared the video on Twitter last week, and more than 76,000 people have seen it since then.
McCarthy writes on Twitter: “It was really hard to watch. That image is going to be stuck in my head for a while.”