Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dolphin Guides Standed Whales Back to Sea

Amazing story from Livescience of a local bottlenose dolphin named "Moko" in New Zealand going to the aid of a pair of standed sperm whales and guiding them to safety back out to the open ocean.

"Before Moko arrived, rescue workers had been working for more than an hour to get two pygmy sperm whales, a mother and her calf, back out to sea after they were stranded Monday off Mahia Beach, said Conservation Department worker Malcolm Smith.

But Smith said the whales restranded themselves four times on a sandbar slightly out to sea from the beach, about 300 miles northeast of the capital, Wellington. It looked likely they would have to be euthanized to prevent a prolonged death, he 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." Then along came Moko, who approached the whales and appeared to lead them as they swam 200 yards along the beach and through a channel out to the open sea."

Dolphins in the wild often interact playfully with humans and other species, and often trail ships at sea. Dolphins have been reported to have protected stranded swimmers before, but this may be the first recorded instance where the species came to the aid of another one.

Pretty interesting story.

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