Who doesn’t know whether human or animal babies, we humans react to them with rapture, with joy and sometimes with enthusiastic squeals. I had just informed our guests about the social structure of dolphins and their subgroup formation, such as the important nursery group, when we were able to observe such a subgroup also known as kindergarten group live and extensively. Three mothers of the Short-beaked Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) with their newborn calves decided to bring their offspring into the bow wave of the Ribeira Brava. They were tiny, still so fragile, still so new to life. Wonderful little sparks of life, which will hopefully experience a healthy living environment, always a fish in their beak and many dolphin adventures.
These little newbies were only a few days old. When they’re still this young, it looks like they still need to grow into their bodies. One could clearly see the fetal folds that are caused by the curvature in the womb. The dorsal fin wasn’t stabilized either. When sliding through the birth canal, the still soft, flexible dorsal fin lies against the body and the tail is rolled in. This is what makes the birth process possible in the first place. The stabilization of the dorsal fin takes a while.
Our guests were amazed that the little ones could keep up with the group so well. Now, as we were able to observe today, the calves are by their mother’s side, a little behind the dorsal fin. There is a suction that pulls the newbie along with the mother. Very convenient.
Afterwards there was a wonderful, close, intense encounter with a group of coastal Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). They glided calmly and majestically through the sea. Again and again we saw how these animals swam belly to belly or flipper to flipper. In this situation it was a sign of sympathy and solidarity. One juvenile was coltish and showed great leaps.
Two such different experiences and both in their very own way, beautiful and touching.
By Fatima Kutzschbach
Sightings of the day
10:00 Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins
15:00 no sighting