January 28, 2023

Dolphin Study Show Dolphins Grieve


A study has recently taken place that has found that Dolphins actually have the capacity to grieve. This study was held by marine animal researchers at the University of Porto in Portugal. It was in Madeira, Portugal that these researchers were able to identify two instances in which Dolphins grieved over the loss of another Dolphin. The type of Dolphin that was found to be grieving is know as the Atlantic spotted Dolphin. In both instances, they were grieving over the loss of newborn calves. Though more research needs to be done in order to assess if all Dolphins grieve or if it’s only the case with certain classes of Dolphin, it isn’t wholly surprising. Over time, it has been found that many different species of mammals have the capacity to grieve for the loss of their newborns, which includes everything from monkeys and elephants to sea otters and toothed whales.

While the two events of grieving were largely similar in nature, there were a couple of notable differences between the two. The first of the encounters with the Atlantic spotted Dolphin had a small group of four Dolphins grieving over the loss of a calf. The grieving lasted for a short period of time before all of the Dolphins moved on. The second of the encounters involved just one Dolphin grieving over the loss of a calf. It is believed that this Dolphin was the mother, as she was seen supporting the newborn just at the surface of the water. It’s also important to note the differences between these two cases of grieving that involved Atlantic spotted Dolphins and other cases in the past that included other classes of Dolphin. The two latest encounters showed Dolphins grieving over the loss of their newborns for a small period of time before moving on. As the bodies showed no amount of decomposition, it can be assumed that these Dolphins had just recently died. When this sort of behavior was witnessed with Long-Beaked Common and Bottlenose Dolphins in the past, they would support their deceased newborns around for over a week at times, even to the point where decomposition had started to set in.

The researchers studying these encounters collected both carcasses of the recently deceased calves and were able to further identify that both died from natural causes and weren’t killed by another Dolphin or even a human. Though there have yet to be widespread studies on whether or not Dolphins grieve, the researchers in charge of this study believe that there is enough evidence to be conclusive about the fact that all Dolphins likely grieve to some extent. The most interesting thing about this study is that there can be differences in the grieving periods of different classes of Dolphin. It’s possible that the grieving period for each class of Dolphin will be identified as research continues. If you are interested in learning more about Dolphins, you can see them up close by traveling to and experiencing Bahamas dolphin encounters.