Marine Altruistic Behaviour - - 4 stories
source : Monty Halls Senior The Week/ Great Ocean Adventures/Websites
Story 1 - The Week Mar 08
In what looks like a rare act of altruism across species, a bottlenose dolphin has saved two beached whales from almost certain death off the coast of New Zealand. Rescue workers had spent hours trying in vain to guide the pygmy sperm whales through a narrow channel to open sea. They were about to give up when Mako ¬who is well known to users of Mahia Beach - turned up. She just came straight for us and escorted the two whales along the beach and out through the channel,said conservationist Malcolm Smith.
Story 2 - Great Ocean Adventures - 2007
Many generations of shore net fishermen in Belize have relied on a pod of spinner dolphins to herd fish shoals towards their shore-thrown circular nets. The dolphins reward is to receive the unwanted or damaged by-catch. On a recent outing, one of the fishermen threw his net too early and missed the herded shoal. A dolphin promptly grabbed a fish and tail-slid along the surface of the water as if to say," Come on, mate, this is what you are supposed to be catching !!".
Story 3 - Websites - The story of Arnold and Cindy - 2006 - Present
Arnold is a fisherman operating a small 30ft fishing vessel equipped with an inboard motor and net winch in coastal waters just south of Adelaide, Australia. In 2006, he had difficulty operating the winch and realised that he had a huge shark trapped in the net. It turned out to be a 4.5 metre female great white shark !! Arnold named her 'Cindy' and freed her from the netting. Ever since then, Cindy seems to have become deeply 'imprinted' on Arnold and follows his boat whenever he puts to sea. More bizarrely, she comes to the surface alongside the boat to have her tum scratched and grunts with pleasure at the treatment. This is a great story, but the downside is that the Australian governemt have declared the great white shark as a protected species and Arnold is at a loss to know what to do. The shark scares the other fish away and his livelihood is progressively suffering to this day (some 2 years later). Answers on a postcard !!??
Story 4 - Bottle-nosed dolphins save life-guards.
On the north island of New Zealand, 4 lifeguards set out on a swimming endurance exercise covering 2 miles across a bay. One of them (an 18 year old girl) had unknowingly sustained a minor cut on her ankle on entering the water and was trailing a minor blood trace. Half way across the bay, they were greeted by a large pod of bottle-nosed dolphins who herded them into a tight bunch and circled them aggressively 'tail-slapping' the water. One of the lifeguards looked down into the depths of the water and saw a large great white shark seeking a channel from which he could launch an attack on the swimmers. The dolphins would occasionally dive to prevent the ambush tactic.
This was no accident - - the pod continued to circle the swimmers for more than 45 minutes until they reached the shore-line. There seems to be little doubt that the swimmers owe their lives to the dolphin pod.
Editorial Comment: It is a tricky business trying to justify stories of altruism amongst marine fish and mammals - - there is a danger of anthropomorphising their behaviour to fit our own feelings. However, the observation remains that it would be a bit arrogant to think that we are the only species to enjoy the 'finer feelings' So many stories abound of similar behaviour patterns of dolphins bringing drowning swimmers to the surface. I find that I sit somewhere in the middle - - somewhat doubtful that they have these finer feelings, but constantly bombarded with stories that throw any conviction out of the window.