Do Whales and Dolphins Grieve for their Dead?

two black and white dolphins on body of water
Photo by Dianne Maddox on

Unlike humans, reportedly, whales do not have tear ducts that humans and other land animals use to cry. However, they do have tear organs around their eyes, which allows them to emit a greasy tear-like substance to keep their eyes well lubricated and eliminate debris from around their eyes, so in the traditional sense of what it is meant to cry, whales do not cry.

However, they’re not emotionless.

Whales do vocalize their emotions, and they whine, moan and produce sad whale songs and crying sounds when they feel alone, sad or upset, which allows other marine mammals and whales to know how they feel and presents them the ability to express their emotions whether they are around other whales or alone.

According to recent studies, whales also experience a “feel-longing” for the dead bodies of their calves and older mothers. Whales can often be heart or seen moaning or crying when they have recently lost a loved one or feel alone and haven’t found a partner or friend to connect with.

Dolphins have long been observed to visit the grave of their fallen mates. The female dolphin will hold the body of its dead mate until it has time to rise up again into the sea.

Scientists have observed around nine different species of dolphins and whales mourn their dead pod relatives and mates in their own ways. For the very first time, a team of researchers recently reported seeing dead juveniles or calves being carried by spinner dolphins, adult Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Australian humpback dolphins, orcas, and sperm whales, in some cases for a long time after the poor child had died.

One thing is sure. Whales and dolphins are very emotional creatures. They can give us insight into the emotions of other animals as well. In fact, we can find out a great deal about the nature of relationships between members of a species by observing how they behave when in a relationship. By studying the behavior of different types of animals, we can learn a lot about how they interact with one another and how they survive in their natural environments.

Short-finned pilot whales and Risso’s dolphins are also known to act in similar ways. It is more likely that mourning behaviors such as these are typical among long-lived mammals that live together in groups in the sea or on land. They carry their dead and make crying sounds and mourn.

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