Dying mother dolphin struggles to save its baby in Mauritius lagoon

Dying mother dolphin tries to save its baby by nudging its head above oil-filled water in Mauritius lagoon after tanker ran aground

  • The dolphin calf rolled over onto its side and was filmed floating on the surface
  • Fisherman Yasfeen Heenaye, 31, filmed the mother dolphin trying to save it
  • Mr Heenaye said he saw nearly 200 dolphins inside the Mauritius reef on Friday
  • Came after oil spill from a Japanese ship in July killed wildlife inside a coral reef 

A dying mother has been filmed trying to save its baby in the Mauritius lagoon where a thousand tonnes of oil spilled last month.

The dolphin calf rolled over onto its side and was filmed floating on the surface after dying in the blackened water today.

The mother died a short while later, according to Reuben Pillay, who watched its desperate last moments.

Fisherman Yasfeen Heenaye, 31, filmed the mother dolphin repeatedly nudge its calf’s head above the oily waves.

The dolphin calf rolled over onto its side and was filmed floating on the surface after dying in the blackened water off the coast of Mauritius today

At least 40 dolphins have died in the contaminated water, including the mother and calf – after 38 were found washed ashore.

The deaths came after a thousand tonnes of a Japanese ship’s 4,000-tonne oil cargo leaked into the sea when the vessel ran aground in July.

A ‘state of environmental emergency’ was declared as the oil seeped into a coral reef and killed mass amounts of wildlife.

Mr Heenaye said he saw nearly 200 dolphins inside the reef Friday morning and 25 to 30 were dead.  

‘Some were injured and some were just floating,’ Heenaye said. Fishermen were trying to herd the dolphins out of the lagoon into the open seas.


The mother died a short while later, according to Reuben Pillay, who watched its desperate last moments

‘Inside the reef there is oil spill on the water – if they stay inside maybe all of them will die – but if they go outside maybe they will survive. 

‘We were trying to push the dolphins outside the reef, making noise in the boat to make the dolphins go outside the reef,’ he said.

‘There was a mother and her baby. …He was very tired, he didn’t swim well. But the mum stayed alongside him, she didn’t leave her baby to go with the group. 

‘All the way she stayed with him. She was trying to protect him… to push the baby to get back with the group.’

But the baby wallowed on its side and died in front of them, floating on the waves, he said.

‘When I was seeing this, there was tears in my eyes. I am a parent of a little daughter, it is very difficult for me to see the mother struggle and try her best to save her baby,’ Heenaye said. 

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