When Michael McCarthy first saw a dolphin holding a limb body beside him, he was canoeing through the Intracoastal Waterway near St. Petersburg, Florida.
He didn’t understand how heartbreaking the situation was until he got a closer look.
“It took me a minute to accept what I was seeing when I first spotted the dolphin,” McCarthy, the owner of the See-Through Canoe Company, said. “I wanted to believe it was a large redfish or something, but it quickly became apparent that it was a dead calf.”
As the situation unfurled before him, he took out his camera and started recording the entire thing.
The dolphin was grieving the death of her calf.
And she had company. Another dolphin swam close by, trying to comfort her. “As the mother made her way north through the Intracoastal Waterway, other dolphins joined her for short distances and then went on their way,” McCarthy said, “except for one dolphin that stayed with the mother the whole time.”
McCarthy believes that the calf died after a clash with a motorboat. This is a frequent occurrence in the area. “Judging by the scar patterns on the calf it was likely hit by a boat propeller,” McCarthy said. “I’ve spent most of my life on the water and a lot of time around manatees and dolphins so, unfortunately, I’m very familiar with what propeller wounds look like.”
He recorded the entire thing in order to “help raise awareness to a problem I see all the time,” he said.
Mother #dolphin not ready to let go of her dead calf and pushing it through the intracoastal waterway.
It's hard to say for sure without examination, but the calf may have been hit by a boat. Please don't assume that because #dolphins are fast that you won't hit them. #sad pic.twitter.com/Le2MAwvPIB
— See Through Canoe (@SeeThroughCanoe) June 3, 2019
One of the biggest superstitions among boaters is that dolphins are “too fast to get hit”. This isn’t true. According to McCarthy, “The calves are even more vulnerable because they can’t swim as fast and have to surface much more frequently for air.”
Studies state that dolphins and whales have their own ways of grieving their loved ones, especially mothers.
It’s no wonder why this video garnered 76,000 and increasing views on Twitter.
“It was really hard to watch,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter. “That image is going to be stuck in my head for a while.”
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