[A]n adult male and female [were] swimming side by side in the weak November light. One had a baby draped over its head. Van Ginneken had seen this activity before as a form of play, with the mother lifting the infant from below or the baby swimming onto her head as if to hitch a ride. But there were only two spouts rising from this group of three. The baby, she realized, was dead.
Next, van Ginneken saw the male rise with its head high above the water as in a spy-hop. It was carrying the baby on its pectoral fins, held forward the way we would carry a child in our arms.
The observer, Astrid van Ginneken, is a scientist studying whales. She loses track of the infant and the male/female pair as they come upon a larger group of orcas. The orcas formed a stationary circle, “heads partly raised and facing inward …”
There in the middle floated the baby’s corpse. Time and again, the whales broke off, reformed their line at a distance, approached the infant, and spread out to face it in a circle. A storm gathered, sucking what little brightness remained from the sky. As van Ginneken’s boat left for shore, the ceremony was still being repeated.
source: The Grandest of Lives: eye to eye with whales by Douglas H. Chadwick