Leave No Dolphin Behind: Dolphin Pod Carries Injured Member Until She Stops Breathing | Smart News | Smithsonian
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Leave No Dolphin Behind: Dolphin Pod Carries Injured Member Until She Stops Breathing

Watch these dolphins try to save their injured friend

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Brace yourselves, because you’re about to get real sad. In 2008, researchers tracking a pod of around 400 dolphins, says New Scientist, spotted one that looked really hurt: “it was wriggling and tipping from side to side, sometimes turning upside-down. Its pectoral flippers seemed to be paralysed.” The female dolphin, seen in the video above, was having a lot of trouble swimming and kept flipping upside down or sinking into the water.

Coming to her rescue were a dozen other dolphins.

The other dolphins crowded around it, often diving beneath it and supporting it from below. After about 30 minutes, the dolphins formed into an impromptu raft: they swam side by side with the injured female on their backs. By keeping the injured female above water, they may have helped it to breathe, avoiding drowning.

Alas, the pod’s efforts to save their ailing friend could stave off the inevitable no longer. The female dolphin, say the researchers, eventually just stopped breathing. “Five dolphins stayed with it and continued touching its body, until it sank out of sight.”

According to New Scientist, some researchers think that dolphins are capable of mourning and of understanding the pain that another dolphin is going through.

More from Smithsonian.com:
Dolphins Go Hunting In Fishers’ Nets
Who’s Murdering And Mutilating These Dolphins?
Should Dolphins and Whales Have Human Rights?

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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