A female dolphin was born at a Hawaiian resort last week and amazing underwater video footage shows the baby's birth and first swim with her mom.
The 12-year-old dolphin mom, Keo, gave birth after about an hour of labor in a lagoon at the Dolphin Quest marine park, part of the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The video shows Keo's calf slowly emerging tail-first. Once she's born, the baby begins swimming a little erratically but soon glides easily alongside her mom. Dolphin Quest officials said the calf started nursing within four hours of birth.
(Dolphin pregnancies like Keo's last about a year, a stint that can be a real drag on the expectant mamas: Past research has shown pregnant dolphins get so hefty they actually swim slower.)
The calf is the 18th born at Dolphin Quest since 1988. In addition to the new baby's grandmother, Pele, and dolphin-aunt Noelani, human trainers were in the water to observe and help Keo. [See Video of Dolphin Birth]
"The trust shared between Keo and her human crew members throughout the birth of this beautiful baby was extraordinary," Rae Stone, a marine mammal vet, said in a statement from Dolphin Quest. "Keo clearly sought out and took comfort and reassurance from her human friends. And she willingly swam up to the dock to allow veterinarians to check the baby's heart rate with ultrasound during labor. This permitted the veterinarians to assess the baby's physical condition at a critical time."
Trainers plan to name the calf after her initial 30-day care period, during which they will closely watch the baby's nursing and respiration rates and get her acquainted with the other nine dolphins at the marine park.