Several years ago, seven bottle-nose dolphins appeared out of nowhere and thwarted a shark attack that saved one grateful family from certain death in the waters off Ocean Beach in New Zealand.
It Began As Just An Ordinary Summer Afternoon
Lifeguard, Rob Howes, and his family were swimming without a care in the world at ocean Beach near Whangarei in northern New Zealand, when seven bottle nose dolphins suddenly herded them all together. In his own words: They pushed all four of us together by swimming tight circles around us. They were behaving really weird...slapping the water with their tails and going ballistic." (See: Gimpy The Blind Elephant Seal.)
Rob had drifted about sixty-five feet away from his 15-year-old daughter, Niccy, and one of her friends named Helen, when he saw one of the dolphins swim straight toward their location. It then dived down into the water right in front of them. How told the Northern Advocate Newspaper: "I turned in the water to see where it w as going to come up, but instead I saw this great white shark swim around me. It glided in an arc and headed fro the other two girls. My heart went into my mouth because one of them was my daughter." (See: Humpback Whale Saves Biologist From Shark Attack.)
Matt Fleet, another life-guard who was on patrol on a lifeboat, saw the dolphins circling the the swimmers and slapping their tails on the water to keep them in place. He also reported to the press that he had a clear view of the approaching shark as well. (See: Hero Dog Saves Toddler From Drowning.)
Dolphins Enjoy Helping Species
According to Dr. Rochelle Constantine from the Auckland University School of Biological Science: "From my understanding of the behavior of these dolphins, they certainly were acting in a way that indicated the shark posed a threat. Dolphins are known for helping those in need. It is an altruistic response, and bottle nose dolphins in particular are known for it." (See: Dolphins Guide Scientists To Drowning Girl.)
Ingrid Visser of the Orca Research Group, who has been studying marine mammals for 14 years, informed the press that there have been reports from around the world about dolphins protecting swimmers. She added that dolphins have been known to attack sharks to protect themselves and their young. (See: Hero Cat Saves Yacht Owner From Drowning.)
Why Are Dolphins Known To Save Humans In Distress?
Although no one knows exactly why, dolphins often exhibit behaviors that are similar to the best qualities in human nature. In the wild, they are known to help the sick or injured within their pod by supporting them to reach the surface so they can breathe. Females are loving and protective mothers that are devoted to their offspring even after the weaning process. The act of defending humans from an animal that can attack them, like sharks, is similar to the behavior of human mothers protecting their young.
Many disabled swimmers have been saved from the jaws of death by both dolphins and porpoises. A few years ago, actor, Dick Van Dyke, fell asleep on his surfboard and awakened with no idea where he was. Approaching fins suggested that death was near, but instead, they were a pod of porpoises who pushed him to shore. Van Dyke assured the press that this was true albeit the porpoises were "not available for comment."
Good job, guys!