Tragic moment dolphin 'Cracker', mourns the loss of stillborn calf

Harrowing footage shows devoted dolphin mum ‘Cracker’ refusing to let go of her young calf after it died in childbirth

  • Heartbreaking moment dolphin called ‘Cracker’ refuses to release her tiny calf
  • Cracker lives in the Bunbury waters at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in WA 
  • The mother dolphin can be seen diving for her calf and balancing it on her snout
  • Conservation Manager explains this is the natural grieving process for dolphins

The heart-breaking moment a mother dolphin refuses to release her stillborn calf has been captured on camera. 

The maternal dolphin, whose name is Cracker, lives at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury in Western Australia. 

Alan Simm, who recorded the video, is a volunteer at the centre, and was asked to help document and identify the mother dolphin. 

In the tragic clip, Cracker can be seen diving for her tiny calf, bringing it to the surface and balancing the calf on her snout before pushing it down again. 

 The mother dolphin, whose name is Cracker, lives at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, Western Australia

The Dolphin Discovery Centre announced the birth of at least five new calves in the Bunbury waters in a Facebook post on February 17. 

The centre reported that in less happy news, they had responded to calls that a mother was mourning the loss of her calf, a natural occurrence for dolphins. 

‘As part of the grieving process, the mother will carry around the calf on her rostrum for a few days mourning her loss, the post read.

‘When approached she might push the calf underwater to protect it, which is an unneeded increase in an already stressful time.’

The Facebook post asked that the public did not intervene with the mothers grieving process and to keep extra distance if they were to see the dolphin.   

Jan Tierney, the Conservation Manager at the Dolphin Discovery Centre, told Daily Mail Australia that Cracker has given birth to four calves in the Bunbury waters. 

The first was Cookie, followed by Anzac, then another that was tragically tangled in fishing line at one year old, followed by her recent stillborn calf. 

Ms Tierney said Cracker’s behaviour in the video was a natural part of the bottlenose dolphins grieving process. 

 Bottlenose dolphins will carry their stillborn calves for days before rough conditions force them to abandon the calf and return to the rest of the pod

‘If the coast is clear, the mum will carry the calf around, pushing it to the surface to make it breath, then pushing it down into the water to hide it again’, she explained. 

Ms Tierney said bottlenose dolphins will carry their stillborn calves for a few days. 

‘What we hope, is that there will be some rough weather that makes it too difficult for the mother to continue carrying her young.

‘It gives them a few days to grieve and then she’s back with the other maternal dolphins’, she said. 

Ms Tierney confirmed that Cracker has returned to the pod of dolphins in Bunbury. 

Last year, the Dolphin Discovery Centre had thirteen calves born with no stillbirths.  

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