Monday, April 18, 2016

Dolphin Palliative Care Providers (Research, Video 1:24)

Dolphins represent many animals that instinctively convey their profound capacity for caregiving by supporting other distressed, injured, or dying animals. This research on caregiving dolphins and distress calls includes the first documented underwater account of multiple wild bottlenose dolphins caregiving a distressed dolphin. The suffering animal appeared to elicit help through calls of anguish to other members of a group of Atlantic dolphins.

When this incident was recorded in underwater video and acoustic recordings later analyzed, it was revealed that a distressed dolphin frequently produced what are most likely distress calls often paired with the emission of long bubble streams. The frequency of her whistle production was positively correlated with the frequency of the supporting behaviors received from other dolphins.

What did supportive dolphins do? Caregiving behaviors of the other dolphins included raft formations, lifts, and stimulating pushes that were predominantly directed toward the upper third of the distressed dolphin’s body. These activities appeared to be directed towards bringing the distressed dolphin toward the surface so that she could breathe. This account highlights the possible role of distress calls in such scenarios.

Dolphins are well known for displaying empathy and emergency assistance for other species in need. In this video, two incidents are featured in which dolphins come to the aid of a dog and a human in danger of death.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
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