New Zealand marine biologists spotted a sweet adoption story recently. A mother bottlenose dolphin has adopted a baby pilot whale! Far Out Ocean Research Collective spotted the pair in the Bay of Islands in Northern New Zealand.

While adoptions are not unheard of among marine mammals, this pair’s size difference is certainly notable. Pilot whales can grow to two tons and grow 18 feet in length!

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“An interesting observation of an adult oceanic bottlenose dolphin with a newborn long-finned pilot whale off north-eastern New Zealand. Earlier in the day, the dolphin was part of a mixed-species group of false killer whales, pilot whales, and oceanic bottlenose dolphins,” the organization announced on Facebook.

“She might have lost her own calf,” researcher Jochen Zaeschmar told New Zealand-based reporters of the dolphin’s behavior.

Pilot whales spend seven years with their calves. There is a good chance it will eventually join another pod of pilot whales as they often cross paths,” Zaeschmar told 1 News reports.

Far Out Ocean will continue to share updates on the pair on social media. “The individual is a well-known member of the north-eastern New Zealand offshore bottlenose dolphin population and regularly associates with pilot whales and false killer whales. We are hoping to re-encounter her to monitor this interesting phenomenon,” Far Out Ocean said in a post.

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Read more about whales in One Green Planet, including the two beluga whales brought to a sanctuarymilitary sonar exercise linked to beached whaleshypersonic weapons testing affecting killer whalesover 100 beached whales saved by rescuers; whales, dolphins, and porpoises face unprecedented risk of extinction;  and humpback whale trapped in fishing gear.

Sign this petition demanding that the U.S. Congress end marine mammal captivity in the United States.

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