Dolphin Without A Dorsal Fin Nursed Back To Health By Pod, Now Doing Just Fine

Three years ago, whale watchers off the coast of Scotland spied an unusual sight on one of their trips -- a dolphin with a missing dorsal fin. The dolphin was surrounded by other dolphins, and spectators said that the wound looked new.

Now, three years later, whale watchers with Summer Queen Cruises have reported that the dolphin has been spotted alive and well. The group posted photos of the finless animal, dubbed "Fin," to its Facebook page.

Noel Hawkins, a crewman aboard the Summer Queen in Ullapool and a rescuer at the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, told The Dodo that he was surprised when he first saw the dolphin -- and is still surprised today.

"It always seemed flanked by other adults as if they were being protective," he said. "We consult with groups such as the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and were told that it is not unknown for dolphin to lose a fin, but it causes them problems and they require help to get by."

Hawkins also noticed that Fin was with a pod that had several calves, and posited that the dolphin could be helping to care for the young (it's very difficult for finless dolphins to reproduce, because blood vessels in the dorsal fin are necessary to regulate a fetus' body temperature).

Even more miraculous, Hawkins said that it was likely that the other pod members took care of the injured dolphin, because Fin would likely have died without the protection of the other dolphins.

"It was great to see it again this year," he said, "as it not only shows that they can survive despite what is a severe injury but I like to think it demonstrates the animals do look after pod members -- perhaps in a way many human social groups seem to be forgetting."