Grief among cetaceans

Traci Watson from National Geographic reports on a study of behavior in whales looking specifically at how members of social groups react to the death of an individual in their group: “Whales Mourn Their Dead, Just Like Us”.

In one case, short-finned pilot whales in the North Atlantic Ocean made a protective circle around an adult and dead calf. In another case, a spinner dolphin in the Red Sea pushed a young animal’s body toward a boat. When the vessel’s occupants lifted the carcass on board, the entire group of dolphins nearby circled the boat and swam off.

Many of the behaviors that they describe are similar to those seen in primates and other terrestrial social mammals like elephants.