POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 27, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 2:43 a.m. HST, Sep 27, 2012
A 12-year-old dolphin at Hilton Waikoloa Village gave birth to a female calf that seemed to instantly recognize her mother.
Still photos and video footage posted online of last week's birth on Hawaii island show the baby dolphin's tail moments before she emerges from her mother. Once she is born, she shoots to the surface to take her first breath, then quickly swims alongside her mother.
The birth occurred in a man-made lagoon for the resort's Dolphin Quest Hawaii program, where visitors can touch and swim with the marine mammals.
Resort officials will monitor the baby around the clock for now, as its first 30 days of life are the most critical to survival, said Julie Rocho-Levine, manager of marine animals for Dolphin Quest. Trainers will note when the baby nurses, among other things, she said.
Officials say it's the first calf for the mother, Keo.
"I'm a mom myself, so I feel like I was able to appreciate her just calm, relaxed nature throughout the whole entire situation," said Rocho-Levine, who was there for the birth.
Keo was calm enough, she said, to allow veterinarians to perform an ultrasound during labor.
Dolphin Quest officials plan to wait to name the baby until after its first month of life.