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Grieving dolphin spotted carrying her dead calf in Bay of Islands

A grieving dolphin has been carrying her dead calf on her back in Northland waters.

According to the Department of Conservation the calf, suspected to be stillborn, was first sighted with its mother on January 29 in the Bay of Islands.

The sightings have led to a warning to boaties from DOC.

"The mother is grieving and needs space and time to do this. The Bay of Islands is a busy place in summer with a lot of activity in and around the water.

Dolphin carrying the dead calf in Bay of Islands. Source: C Peters / DOC

"This female needs everyone on the water to give her the extra space and respect she needs whilst she copes with her loss.

"If in doubt avoid all dolphin groups in the Bay of Islands," says Dr Catherine Peters, Senior Ranger Biodiversity, DOC.

DOC says the rest of the dolphin group has at times separated from the female leaving her vulnerable and that she has dropped the calf frequently as she tried to swim, and then circles back to retrieve it.

Female dolphin carrying a dead baby on her back in Northland. Source: C Peters / DOC