2 dolphins appear to try to help 3rd found dead in Charleston harbor

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – Video of a dead dolphin floating in the Charleston Harbor is offering a rare look at animal behavior.
The video captured Monday by Captain J.R. Waits of Charleston’s Fish Call Charters shows the interaction between two live dolphins and a dead dolphin.

“It’s a sad day when you find one of these guys floating. Two of his buddies hanging out with him … trying to push him around,” Waits says.

In the video, it appears the two live animals may be trying to revive or help the dead one. It’s a fascinating glimpse of the relationships these social species have with one another.

Incredibly sad sight in harbor. Two dolphin trying to revive a dead one. I didn't see any boat marks but had some skin…

Posted by J.R. Waits on Monday, May 8, 2017

Dolphin researcher Meghan Galipeau says it’s hard to say what they are doing for sure, but if the dolphins are trying to help or revive the dead animal, it wouldn’t be out of character.

“It has been documented that dolphins have assisted each other. It is normal for them to be interested in their social associates. When an animal is in distress, they have been known to give that animal attention,” Galipeau says.

Waits called the Department of Natural Resources after finding the dolphin. Galipeau says he did the right thing.

“If someone was to come upon or find a dead or dying animal, it’s best not to touch them or approach them but rather to call the Department of Natural Resources and let the experts take care of that animal. You don’t want to try and push the animal back out in the water or approach them. Not only is that not safe for the animal, for the people – it’s also against the law,” Galipeau says.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration later took over the case and says the 7-foot female dolphin had marks on it, like it had been tangled in a line.

After performing a necropsy, NOAA officials believe the dolphin had been dead in the water a few days after possibly coming in contact with humans.

Officials say they’ve had issues around the Charleston Harbor with people getting too close to dolphins while they are strand fishing. It disrupts their feeding habits and can cause distress for the mammals, officials say.

Wildlife experts recommend people stay at least 150 feet away from dolphins.

If you come across an animal in distress or that has died, call the DNR hotline at 1-800-922-5431.

Photo: A fisherman captured video Monday, May 8, 2017, of two dolphins in the Charleston Harbor apparently trying to help a third dead dolphin. (Facebook/J.R. Waites)

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