With the kick kick kick of its tiny tail, the Shedd Aquarium’s new dolphin calf surfaced for its first breath early this week.
The as-yet-unnamed Pacific white-sided calf is the first for new mom Katrl, who gave birth Monday morning at the Chicago aquarium after three hours of labor.
“As soon as those little tail flukes appear, your heart begins to race,” Lisa Takaki, the aquarium’s senior director of marine mammals, said in a statement. “And you know it’s only a matter of time before you are about to witness something incredibly amazing.”
The aquarium filmed the birth and the calf’s first interactions with its mother and new home.
Mom Katrl is showing signs of protectiveness, “steering her calf away from the sides of the habitat and helping guide it into position to conserve its energy reserves,” Takaki said.
The calf, whose sex hasn’t yet been determined, weighs about 25 pounds and is about three feet long.
Once the calf reaches a number of milestones during its critical first year, it’ll receive a name drawn from the language of the Tlingit, one of the Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest.
The little dolphin will have to learn to nurse and eat whole fish before that name is bestowed.
The area where mom and baby are housed is temporarily closed to visitors while the pair get to know each other.
Clocking speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, Pacific white-sided dolphins are among the ocean’s fastest swimmers.
The graceful creatures, known for black backs, gray sides and white bellies, are found in the North Pacific Ocean.