Dolphin Rescues Two Whales

A mother and baby pygmy sperm whale in New Zealand appeared disoriented this week, repeatedly stranding themselves on a sandbar off of Mahia Beach. After multiple attempts by the locals to guide the whales back to sea failed, the human rescuers were starting to get worried. All of a sudden, a well known, local dolphin named Moko appeared and seemed to communicate with the whales. Before long, Moko was guiding the whales back to sea!

"The whales made contact with the dolphin and she basically escorted them about 200 metres parallel with the beach to the edge of the sandbar...Then she did a right-angle turn through quite a narrow channel and escorted them out to sea," said Malcolm Smith, a Conservation Department Officer who had been trying to save the whales before Moko showed up. Read more of his interview in this article on the AFP. Moko, a bottlenose dolphin, is already a minor celebrity at the beach, known for playing with swimmers and kayakers. Now, of course, her notoriety will surly surge.

Moko's selflessness and bravery put The Mahia Tourist Board forever in her debt. "We don't even need to show up to work anymore!" exclaimed a jubilant Assistant Director of Public Relations.

We're all familiar with stories of dolphins coming to humans' rescue, but this may be the first recorded incident of inter-species altruism between cetaceans. Either way, it would make a fantastic Animal Planet made-for-TV movie.

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I remember hearing stories about a group of bottlenose dolphins "rescuing" stranded beaked whales in New Zealand in 1983 or '84, by surrounding them and herding them out to sea once humans got them in the water. I can't find any archived story about this online, though, possibly because I'm not looking in the right place.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 12 Mar 2008 #permalink