Do Dolphins Grieve?

by J-Touchette

New evidence suggests that dolphins, like elephants and the great apes, may comprehend their own mortality.

Dolphins are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, but do they understand death?

There have been examples of dolphins showing a grief-like behaviour. One mother dolphin has been seen trying to get its dead, newborn calf to breathe by bringing it to the surface by pushing the calf with her nose. It’s reported she did so frantically over the course of two days.

Conversely, a calf was traveling in a pod of dolphins, but was seriously ill, its skin was blotchy and bleached. While the members of the pod did try to help it stay afloat, the calf would continue to sink, and eventually it died. The pod just moved on instead of trying to help.

Scientists have said it’s a dangerous practice to try to impose human emotions, since it can’t be known what animals are thinking, and that a grieving process for dolphins would be difficult, if not impossible to prove. But more research is still being done, so that humans may have a clearer picture of how dolphins, and other animals react to death.

Read more:

Death in Dolphins: Do they understand they are mortal? | New Scientist

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