A mother’s instincts are the most powerful imaginable, not only in humans but also in the animal kingdom. For it is precisely there that baby animals have to learn from their mothers how to survive and grow.
And even there, it sometimes happens that some mother animals take care of newborns, even though they are not their own.
Even rarer is when animals “adopt” others who are not even members of their species and raise them as their own. Scientists were recently able to observe this rare but nevertheless sweet phenomenon.
They namely discovered a dolphin taking care of a whale calf.
It was the Far Out Ocean Research Collective, an organisation from New Zealand, that made this discovery. Weeks ago, they witnessed an adult and female dolphin forming a strong bond with a newborn whale.
The animal lovers suspected that the dolphin was probably the whale’s “adoptive mother”, but for this they had to observe them further.
Weeks later, they saw the dolphin and the whale again and assumed that they were the same animals they had discovered before. This time it was clear that the dolphin had taken the whale under its wing.
What the exact family relationships are is not known, which makes this discovery all the more rare and mysterious.
“This species of dolphin is known to take calves from other breeds, but the reasons for this are as yet unknown,” the Far Out Ocean Research Collective wrote on Facebook.
“It could be some kind of maternal instinct or she has lost a calf herself,” scientist Jochen Zaeschmar told 1 News.
Even though these photos make the hearts of many animal lovers beat faster, this special mother-child relationship will probably not last much longer. The two animals will grow apart.
In addition to different eating habits and schedules, whales grow much larger than dolphins when they are adults.
“It’s quite special when one species adopts another that is much bigger than them,” Zaeschmar told Stuff.co.nz. “We very much hope to see them again… It would be very interesting after the winter when the calf is in its growing phase.”
It is also possible that the whale will rejoin its herd. Zaeschmar says it may not find its mother again, but at least its mates.
“This type of whale stays with its calves for seven years,” he said. “Chances are that the whale will soon follow up with others because they keep meeting each other.”
A beautiful spectacle of nature. One should never underestimate the instincts of a mother.