Passengers on board a whale watching safari in California have filmed the rare sight of a "grieving" bottlenose dolphin carrying its dead calf on its back.
The whale-watchers noticed the adult dolphin when it swam past their boat this week with an object wrapped around its dorsal fin.
In video of the incident, Captain Dave Anderson can be heard explaining the dolphin's unusual cargo to passengers.
"It seems to me that...it's a dolphin that unfortunately is no longer alive, and it could be the calf of this female," he said.
A pod of dolphins can be seen surrounding the dolphin as it swims with the calf on its back, moving many passengers on board.
"I think the last thing I expected to see today was a funeral procession," passenger Tony Green said.
"It was pretty profound for me to think about the kind of emotions that those animals feel and how much more alike we are."
Captain Anderson said in almost 20 years of whale watching he had never witnessed behaviour like it.
"Nor have I ever seen anything quite as moving as this mother who refuses to let go of her poor calf," he said.
He believed the calf’s decaying flesh indicated it may have been dead for days or even weeks.
Author: Sylvia Varnham O'Regan, Approving editor: Fiona Willan