Dolphin Giving Birth to a Pup

A female dolphin can potentially bear a calf every two years, but calving intervals generally average three years.     Calves are born in the water. Deliveries are usually tail-first, but head-first deliveries are also seen. The umbilical cord snaps during delivery. Sometimes an assisting dolphin may stay close to the new mother and calf. Although this assisting dolphin often is referred to as an “auntie” dolphin, it may be male or female. This auntie dolphin is often the only other dolphin a mother allows near her calf.   Calves are approximately 100 to 135 cm (39-53 in.) long and weigh about 10 to 20 kg (22-44 lb.).    In the first few days after birth, the calf’s dorsal fin and tail flukes are pliable and lack firmness, but gradually stiffen.    Calves, darker than adults, show several vertical, light lines on their sides, a result of fetal folding.   These lines disappear within six months.  Observations in zoological parks show that nursing usually begins within six hours of birth.   A calf nurses as often as 4 times per hour for the first 4 to 8 days.  Each nursing instance usually lasts only about 5 to 10 seconds.   A calf nurses 3 to 8 times per hour throughout the day and night.  Milk is composed of 33% fat, 6.8% protein, and 58% water, with traces of lactose.  The rich milk helps the baby rapidly develop a thick blubber layer.   A calf may nurse for up to 18 months. Check out the amazing video!

 

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