Recent new studies have provided evidence that dolphins grieve and may have a comprehension of what death is. Their behavior has suggested that they are very similar to the great apes and the elephants when it comes to a loss of a loved one through death and possibly very similar to our own emotional feelings concerning death.

Although researcher have always been reserved in attributing human emotions to animals the most recent studies from Joan Gonzalvo of the Tethys Research Institute might just prove otherwise. Gonzalvo has been observing the bottlenose dolphin population of the Amvrakikos gulf in the Mediterranean Sea since 2006. He had observed a couple of situations that made him think that it is possible that dolphins also grieve.

The first situation involved a mother dolphin whose baby had just died. The mother acted very distraught and kept trying to push the baby up out of the water so that it could breathe. It was a though she couldn't come to terms with it's sudden passing. The 2nd situation involved a 3 month old dolphin calf who was in the process of dying. A whole pod of dolphins were swimming very erratically trying to keep the young dolphin afloat.

Another researcher, Ingrid Visser of the Orca Research Trust in Tutukaka, New Zealand has also observed dolphins and whales carrying their dead babies around. She also witnessed grieving behavior on the part of pilot whales who had to stop and observe a dead whale before moving on. When the researchers tried to keep the whales from doing this, the whales fought to try and return again.

It turns out there is actually physical evidence in the brains of whales and dolphins that suggests that they can feel grief and some comprehension of what death might mean. One recent study on cetacean neurology showed that dolphins and whales possess specialized, human-like "spindle" neurons, which are the brain cells linked to empathy, grief and intuition in humans.

Although we will probably never really know for sure what they are feeling, it is very likely that we are not alone in our ability to grieve over the deaths of those close to us. This understanding makes it all the more tragic when one thinks of all the deaths of these magnificent animals that man has caused and the grief their families must have felt.

Responses to "Can Dolphins grieve also over the deaths of other dolphins?"

  1. Unknown says:

    I know I've observed it in wolves I've worked with. If it wasn't grief, I don't know what else you could call it..... I also know of an instance of a bear going into mourning for a companion who died. It's all around us. We are just animals, why do we think other animals can't have feelings too? Probably because it serves many who are less than kind to animals to think that they don't share our feelings....

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