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News 157, Media Reports

Dolphins Save Swimmers from Shark Attack

(Originally in English)

[Wellington, New Zealand] Recently a pod of dolphins saved a group of swimmers from a great white shark off the northern coast of New Zealand.

On October 30, 2004, lifeguard Rob Howes took his fifteen-year-old daughter Niccy and two of her friends swimming near the town of Whangarei, and as Mr. Howes said, "A pod of dolphins suddenly started to herd us up; they pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us." He then explained that when he attempted to break away from the protective group, two of the bigger dolphins herded him back.

Mr. Howes next saw what he described as a three-meter great white shark cruising toward his group, but it appeared to be repelled by the ring of dolphins and swam away. "It was only about two meters away from me, the water was crystal clear and it was as clear as the nose on my face," he explained. At that point, he realized that the dolphins "had corralled us up to protect us."

Expert Ingrid Visser, who has been studying marine mammals for fourteen years, told the local newspaper the Northern Advocate that there have been other reports from around the world about dolphins protecting swimmers. She said that in this case the dolphins probably sensed the humans were in danger and took action to protect them.

Ingrid Visser of the environmental group Orca Research said the dolphins' behavior was understandable, as they attack sharks to protect themselves and their young, and similar incidents had been reported round the world. "They could have sensed the danger to the swimmers, and taken action to protect them," she said.

In addition, Auckland University marine mammal research scientist Doctor Rochelle Constantine said that dolphins are normally vigilant in the presence of sharks. The altruistic response of the dolphins was normal, she added. "They like to help the helpless."

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Our Animal Friends
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*The Affectionate Behavior of Dogs Helps Heal Wounds
*The Inspiring Story of Mari and Her Puppies
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*Dolphins Save Swimmers from Shark Attack
*A Clever Cockatiel Who Can Sew
*Australian Kangaroo Wins Award for Saving Her Master’s Life
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