Dolphin Mom Adopts Whale Calf—a First
Bottlenose dolphins are doting mothers, nursing, protecting, and playing with their youngsters for up to six years.
Now, new research has revealed the first known case of a wild bottlenose mom adopting a calf of another species.
In 2014, researchers spotted a bottlenose mother caring for an unusual-looking male calf, along with what was presumed to be her biological calf, in coastal waters off French Polynesia.
While bottlenose dolphins have slender beaks, the mysterious one-month-old’s beak was short and blunt. Eventually, the scientists identified the orphan as a melon-headed whale—an entirely different species and genus of dolphin.