It's a girl! That's the announcement from Dolphin Quest Hawaii, located at the Hilton Waikoloa Village as it welcomed the latest addition to the marine park on Monday.
This is the first time a dolphin born and raised at the Dolphin Quest Hawaii facility has given birth in captivity and the incredible underwater birth was captured on video.
At 12-years-old, Keo is considered an "older" first time mom. While in labor, Dolphin Quest crew members said they were anxious, just like any family member would be.
Michelle Campbell is Dolphin Quest Hawaii's director of Marine Animals.
"We were crossing our fingers and our flukes, wishing for the best, not knowing how she’s going to fare with what’s happening to her," said Campbell.
In the lagoon with Keo was a support team of the baby's grandmother, Pele and Noelani, the baby's aunt.
"Pele, my impression, was, 'She’s got this taken care of, I’ll be on the sideline, we’re all good.' Noe was very curious and followed her around at times, so it was neat to see that," said Campbell.
Remarkable to watch was the close interaction Keo had with her human Dolphin Quest trainers.
"We let her approach us. We would gently reach out with a hand on the back to make sure they're OK, you know, a mom in labor and the myriad of emotions she must be feeling," said Campbell.
The trust shared between Keo and her human crew members has helped provide valuable information about dolphin deliveries.
Keo willingly allowed vets to do an ultrasound exam just minutes before her baby's birth. That information is difficult to obtain in the wild.
At 5:10 p.m., after an hour of labor, and in front of more than 50 hotel guests and Dolphin Quest staff, the miracle of birth.
"When the calf popped out for the first time, you feel like you’re at a football game. It's so amazing to hear the crowd roar and the excitement of it all," said Campbell.
At 3-days-old, baby and mother are reportedly doing just fine.
"She’s really a nice sized calf and nursing well. Mom did everything kind of according to text book standards from delivering the placenta, to how well she’s eating, to the first time the baby started nursing. So, we couldn’t be more pleased," said Campbell.
The first 30 days of a newborn dolphin's life are the most critical. Dolphin Quest staff are working around the clock monitoring the baby calf and mom, recording nursing and respiration rates and making sure Keo is well fed and hydrated.
A name for the baby will be decided through a contest in a month.