The Right Planet

Ever feel like you were dropped onto the right planet? Perhaps this is why.....

Swim aside Flipper, now here's Moko


ROLL over Flipper - there's a new heroic dolphin in the surf after two whales were saved from seemingly certain doom. Four times, rescuers turned a mother pygmy sperm whale and her calf back to sea and, each time, the pair stranded themselves on a sandbar just off the coast. It looked likely the whales would have to be put down to prevent them suffering a prolonged death. But then Moko, a friendly bottlenose dolphin well known in the area around Mahia beach - about 500km (300 miles) from Wellington in New Zealand - came to the rescue. 'Moko just came flying through the water and pushed in between us and the whales,' said rescuer Juanita Symes. 'She got them to head toward the hill, where the channel is. It was an amazing experience. The best day of my life.' Amazed rescuers saw Moko guide the whales 200m (650ft) to safety. Would-be rescuer Malcolm Smith speculated that Moko may have responded to their distress calls. 'It was looking like it was going to be a bad outcome for the whales... then Moko just came along and fixed it,' he said. 'They had arched their backs and were calling to one another, but as soon as the dolphin turned up they submerged into the water and followed her.' Marine mammal expert Anton van Helden said he was not altogether surprised by Moko's actions. 'We've seen bottlenose dolphins getting lifted up on the noses of humpback whales and getting flicked out of the water just for fun,' he said. 'But it's the first time I've heard of an inter-species refloating technique. I think that's wonderful.' After the rescue, Moko returned to the beach and joined in games with local residents.


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