Dolphin Tales: Baby dolphin
A female dolphin gives birth to one calf every two to three years. The gestation period is 11 months. Dolphins give live birth as do humans. When the female goes into labor she will have at least two attendants, similar to midwives. The attendants, however, can also be males. The attendants will stay with the mom during labor. They will comfort her, rub her belly and protect her. The rest of the pod will surround them.
When the baby is born, one of the attendants will take the baby away from the mother because there is blood in the water and that attracts sharks. Also, this is a mammal born under water that has to breathe air. The attendant will push the baby up to the surface of the water numerous times until the baby gets the rhythm of breathing through the blowhole on its own. Then the attendant will take the baby back to the mother.
The newborn calf weighs approximately 35 pounds. The baby will swim tight against the mother’s side in the slipstream. This gives the baby a “free ride” where she is pulled along, protected and can nurse. The mother has to continually swim for the first two weeks of the baby’s life because the baby doesn’t have enough fat to float. Fortunately, the mother can take catnaps as she swims.
Dolphins are very supportive of mom and baby and will swim with them for protection. When the baby continues to nurse and gain weight, she will eventually swim on her own.
Capt. Cathy Eagle has spent over 40 years boating in our local waters. As a professional charter captain she specializes in dolphin and nature tours. Visit CaptainCathy.com or call 239 994-2572.