Had a rather extraordinary experience yesterday. A big group of us were on a native plant survey walk at Mu'olea Point and we came across this dolphin stranded in a tide pool. Probably got stuck there when chasing a fish the night before during high tide. It was scraped up pretty badly and bleeding from several places, and obviously exhausted, but still alive.
After much collective effort, we managed to get her turned around and slid over some boards and stuff we could find around and got her back in the ocean. She swam very slowly at first back out into the open ocean, and then went to a spot where she was on top of the wave that rose up just outside so we could see her well, almost like she was looking back at us. Then 2 or 3 other dolphins came and joined her, which was very relieving because I was worried that a bleeding exhausted dolphin would be easy prey for a shark, but hopefully the others could protect her until she can recover some. Then they all swam away and she seemed to be moving pretty strongly. Needless to say, it was a truly wonderful, amazing experience I will never forget.
(Follow up Message)
We are having some dispute as to exactly what species the beautiful being we encountered was. To me it looks like it must be a bottlenose, but one man who was there said it didn't have teeth (he's a Hawaiian biologist - not a marine biologist, but nevertheless someone who I trust the observation of) and I didn't observe myself whether it had teeth or not, so there is some question of whether it might be a small toothless beaked whale. But the shape of the head/nose, which wasn't apparent in the photos I posted on my blog, is most clear in the photo I'm attaching, and it sure looks like a bottlenose to me. I'm hoping you could take a look at this and tell us in your opinion whether this is a bottlenose or whether it could be anything else. Also, you can see the extent of the injuries pretty well here. There were 3 or 4 places where it was cut through the skin and was actually bleeding, although not all that deeply. But the sort of outer layer of skin appears to be quite scraped up, and I just wondered if that is really superficial and something that it would heal from relatively well.
From S.C. Hana, Hawaii
Dolphins prevent NZ shark attack
By Phil Mercer
A group of swimmers has told how a pod of dolphins protected them from a great white shark off New Zealand's coast.
The lifeguards were training at a beach near Whangarei on the North Island when they were menaced by a 3-metre shark, before the dolphins raced in to help.
The swimmers were surrounded by the dolphins for 40 minutes before they were able to make it safely back to the beach.
Marine biologists say such altruistic behaviour is not uncommon in dolphins.
Lifeguard Rob Howes was in the water with two colleagues and his teenage daughter.
It was an uncomfortable experience, as they were circled by a great white shark, which came within a couple of metres.
He said around half a dozen dolphins suddenly appeared and herded the swimmers together. The mammals swam in tight circles to create a defensive barrier as the great white lurked under the surface.
The swimmers said the dolphins were extremely agitated and repeatedly slapped the water with their tails, presumably to try to deter the predator as it cruised nearby.
The drama happened in New Zealand three weeks ago, but only now are the lifeguards telling their story.
It is a day they will never forget, especially for one of the swimmers, who was on her first day as a volunteer.
They have no doubt that the dolphins acted deliberately to protect them.
Researchers have said they are not surprised. A marine biologist insisted that dolphins, which are
considered to be one of the most intelligent mammals, "like to help the helpless".
From M.N. Crestone, CO.
A New Zealand lifeguard says a pod of dolphins saved him and three young women from a 10-foot shark that threatened them about 300 feet offshore. Rob Howes told Radio New Zealand he and his daughter were swimming with two others near Whangarei when six or seven dolphins "raced in pretty quick and very, very agitated," and herded the swimmers together by circling them. "They were behaving really weird," Howes said, "turning tight circles on us, and slapping the water with their tails." As he and one of the women drifted from the group, Howes submerged and saw the shark lurking near the others and surrounding dolphins. The dolphins maintained their close circles on the girls until an inflatable rescue boat arrived with another lifeguard, who had seen what was happening and confirmed the presence of a shark.
From M.E. Boulder, CO
Whale Rescue? A Story of Blessing
If you read the front page story of the SF Chronicle today, Thursday, Dec 15, 2005, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line (rope) wrapped around her body?her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her?a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her.
When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around?she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.
May we all be so blessed and as fortunate in the New Year----to be untangled from the things that we think are binding us. Happy 2006!!!
From M.N. Crestone, CO.