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Dolphin Appears To Guide Whales To Sea

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    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 13, 2008
      NHNE Wavemaker News List
      Current Members: 371
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      DOLPHIN APPEARS TO GUIDE WHALES TO SEA
      By Ray Lilley
      Associated Press
      March 13, 2008

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080313/ap_on_fe_st/new_zealand_dolphin_rescue

      WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - Most days, Moko the bottlenosed dolphin swims
      playfully with humans at a New Zealand beach. But this week, it seems, Moko
      found his mojo. Witnesses described Wednesday how they saw the dolphin swim
      up to two stranded whales and guide them to safety.

      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.

      "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."

      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.

      "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.

      ............

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