Dolphin watchers in west Wales have spotted unusual behaviour as a female repeatedly tossed a newborn calf into the air.
They say it is the first time such ‘violent’ behaviour has been seen by a mother in Cardigan Bay although males dolphins do sometimes kill the young.
Dr Peter Evans, from the Sea Watch Foundation, said it might have been a case of a severe telling off, because the calf was wandering away from her.
He added the youngster was unharmed.
“She was nosing it away in a particular direction, then suddenly she threw the infant right up into the air, and then did this about three times,” Dr Evans said.
“Normally when you see something like an animal thrown into the air it’s an aggressive action by a male dolphin,” he said.
Dr Evans said there were cases of male bottle nose dolphins killing infants.
“In this instance it was the mother doing it (the attacking), and she was doing it very rigorously”.
The youngster was about two to three days old, and it might have been the mother’s way of disciplining it, Dr Evans added.
“It was moving away, several times, from the mother, and perhaps it was straying too far and she wanted to keep a close eye on it,” he said.
This might have been because there were humans nearby, and also other adult dolphins, including males, he added.
“It was possible a got a strong scolding because of that, and the animal was unharmed at the end,” he said.