Dolphin rescues beached whales


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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A dolphin swam up to two distressed whales that appeared headed for death in a beach stranding in New Zealand and guided them to safety, witnesses said Wednesday.

The actions of the bottlenose dolphin -- named Moko by residents who said it spends much of its time swimming playfully with humans at the beach -- amazed would-be rescuers and an expert who said they were evidence of the species' friendly nature.

The two pygmy sperm whales, a mother and her calf, were found stranded on Mahia Beach, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) northeast of the capital of Wellington, on Monday morning, said Conservation Department worker Malcolm Smith.

Rescuers worked for more than one hour to get the whales back into the water, only to see them strand themselves four times on a sandbar slightly out to sea. It looked likely the whales would have to be euthanized to prevent them suffering a prolonged death, Smith said.

"They kept getting disorientated and stranding again," said Smith, who was among the rescuers. "They obviously couldn't find their way back past (the sandbar) to the sea."

Along came Moko, who approached the whales and led them 200 meters (yards) along the beach and through a channel out to the open sea. Watch how dolphin became a hero ?

"Moko just came flying through the water and pushed in between us and the whales," Juanita Symes, another rescuer, told The Associated Press. "She got them to head toward the hill, where the channel is. It was an amazing experience. The best day of my life."

Anton van Helden, a marine mammals expert at New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, said the reports of Moko's rescue were "fantastic" but believable because the dolphins have "a great capacity for altruistic activities."

These included evidence of dolphins protecting people lost at sea, and their playfulness with other animals.

"We've seen bottlenose dolphins getting lifted up on the noses of humpback whales and getting flicked out of the water just for fun," van Helden said.

"But it's the first time I've heard of an inter-species refloating technique. I think that's wonderful," said van Helden, who was not involved in the rescue but spoke afterward to Smith.

Smith speculated that Moko responded after hearing the whales' distress calls.

"It was looking like it was going to be a bad outcome for the whales ... then Moko just came along and fixed it," he said. "They had arched their backs and were calling to one another, but as soon as the dolphin turned up they submerged into the water and followed her."

After the rescue, Moko returned to the beach and joined in games with local residents, he said.

Kudo's to Moko! Just a bit off topic, I get steamed thinking the Japanese slaughtering these intelligent creatures.
Rather interesting, really.

With no way to communicate, you have to wonder if it was just a game to her, or if she really was trying to save them.
Read that, Japan govt, and STFU about eating them ! And maybe we should have Chinese read more about rescue dogs, and stories of cats saving people (well, cats rarely do, but when they do, they do it all the way)

Most awesome thing I've ever read ! I'm still amazed...
You know, dolphins have brains that are the same size as humans. It would not be unresonable to think they could have an intelligence which rivals a humans. They could never learn our language or anything like that because their bodies and mouths are not made for it, but they could still understand us.
"They call him Flipper..."

Brave dolphin, he could have been squashed.
*claps* dolphins are intelligent little bastards, aren't they...? and when i say "bastards" i don't mean it as an insult...:sweatdrop
You read about a man severing his nephews head off in public over a squabble with his mother.

It sinks in.

Than you read about a dolphin saving whales from death.

Damn son.
Oh, impressive work for the dolphin. X3 It is nice to think the did it to be helpful instead of just being entertained. Either way, very intelligent of Moko to do so.
way to go Moko! :leepose I wonder if they could make use of this behavior by teaching captive dolphins to help with other rescue missions? and you know Williaien, dolphins and whales do make noises, and have body language that allows them to communicate. Both are incredibly intelligent species and perhaps toothed whales and dolphins have a similar enough language to be able to talk to each other, being as they both come from the same family? After all, all animals do communicate in some way or another.
Like they will...
It's nice to hear a good happy story like this once in a while.
True dat
"They call him Flipper..."

Brave dolphin, he could have been squashed.
Pygmy whales aren't that much bigger than dolphins, are they?

Hooray for dolphins!:awesome

*points to sig*
Hooray for sigs!:awesome

Actually, I've heard stories about dolphins saving people from drowning out at sea. And, when a shark attack one of them in a pod, the rest of them beat the crap our of it. They're awesome.
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