Marine scientists in South Korea have captured footage of group of dolphins joining together to keep a dying dolphin afloat in ocean waters.

Scientists at the Cetacean Research Institute in Ulsan observed a group of wild long-beaked common dolphins in the Sea of Japan during an expedition in 2008.

Led by Kyum Park of the CRI, the team spotted the group of dolphins and documented their movements as they tried to rescue on of their own.

A clip of their footage posted online shows at least four dolphins forming a “raft” of sorts to swim underneath the stricken dolphin and keep it from sinking below the surface. To form the raft, five dolphins at a time lined up to elevate the ailing creature, carrying it along on their backs.

In the video, the afflicted dolphin is shown flapping its tail, but it’s apparent that the animal, swimming on its side and back, is having difficulty. Reports suggest that the dolphin ultimately died.


In an article published in Marine Mammal Science, the team of scientists said the incident was a rare show of nurturing group behaviour among cetaceans, which include whales and dolphins.

Other documented instances of care-giving among cetaceans usually involves a mother dolphin caring for her calf in difficulty.

Other reported instances involved only one or two adult animals supporting a dead or stillborn calf at the surface or biting a distressed dolphin in an attempt to stimulate it.