Dolphin funeral? Adult dolphin "carries calf around for days," but is it grieving?

Participants on a "Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari" off the coast at Dana Point, CA (I've been on a few of them, they're great) witnessed an emotionally moving form of bottlenose dolphin behavior this week: a deceased dolphin calf was being carried around on the back of an adult bottlenose dolphin. To onlookers, it felt like a kind of funeral procession, in the sea.

"I believe this calf has been dead for many days, possibly weeks," said Captain Dave. "You can see the flesh is decaying. In my nearly twenty years on the water whale watching I have never seen this behavior. Nor have I ever seen anything quite as moving as this mother who refuses to let go of her poor calf."

More video, and background, here.

It'd be interesting to hear how marine biologists explain the science behind this apparent mourning behavior. Because it could also be a tasty fermented treat.

[petethomasoutdoors.com via Brian Lam]