“You’re home blogging full-time now,” a friend wrote me recently. “Does that mean there’s a chance you’ll revive Animal Intelligence? Again?” Why sure!
A couple of people sent me this BBC News story about a New Zealand dolphin that helped to rescue a pair of beached whales. Due to copyright issues, I’ve been trying not to quote entire articles, but this one is so good that I’m going to make an exception:
A dolphin has come to the rescue of two whales which had become stranded on a beach in New Zealand. Conservation officer Malcolm Smith told the BBC that he and a group of other people had tried in vain for an hour and a half to get the whales to sea.
The pygmy sperm whales had repeatedly beached, and both they and the humans were tired and set to give up, he said. But then the dolphin appeared, communicated with the whales, and led them to safety.
The bottlenose dolphin, called Moko by local residents, is well known for playing with swimmers off Mahia beach on the east coast of the North Island. Mr Smith said that just when his team was flagging, the dolphin showed up and made straight for them.
“I don’t speak whale and I don’t speak dolphin,” Mr Smith told the BBC, “but there was obviously something that went on because the two whales changed their attitude from being quite distressed to following the dolphin quite willingly and directly along the beach and straight out to sea.”
He added: “The dolphin did what we had failed to do. It was all over in a matter of minutes.”
Mr Smith said he felt fortunate to have witnessed the extraordinary event, and was delighted for the whales, as in the past he has had to put down animals which have become beached.
He said that the whales have not been seen since, but that the dolphin had returned to its usual practice of playing with swimmers in the bay.
“I shouldn’t do this I know, we are meant to remain scientific,” Mr Smith said, “but I actually went into the water with the dolphin and gave it a pat afterwards because she really did save the day.”
This is one of my favorite animal intelligence stories ever. I love the interaction between the whales and humans, between dolphin and whales, and between humans and dolphin. I love that the locals know this dolphin. I love that the story involves one of the great animal mysteries: why do whales beach themselves? And, too, I love that Mr. Smith obviously has great respect and affection for Moko.
Animal Intelligence is back up and running. Again. Send me your stories!