Mother and calf were captured nuzzling up to each other in a series of extraordinary pictures after the birth at the Oltremare lagoon in Riccione, Italy. The period shortly after birth is one of the biggest dangers for dolphin calves, with the chance they will not suffer complications at less than 60 per cent.
But within two-and-a-half hours, Blue was suckling her calf with milk containing antibodies to protect him from infections which could have been fatal. It doubled its birth weight in three weeks and Blue was eating up to 20kg of fish a day – double her normal intake – to feed him. She will now nurse her calf – whose 25-year-old father Micha is originally from Cuba – for about 18 months, although it will start eating fish within about four months.
The bottlenose is among the most common of the 45 different types of dolphins and in the wild will live until an average of 20 years old, although they typically survive longer in captivity.