Protecting dumb animals

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

One for the 'incredible but true' folder, dolphins protecting humans.

From BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Dolphins prevent NZ shark attack:

Dolphins prevent NZ shark attack
By Phil Mercer
BBC, Sydney

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.

(snip)

Lifeguard Rob Howes 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.

(snip)

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”.

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.