Throughout history there have been documented cases and legends of dolphins rescuing members of different species. This is something of an anomaly in the animal kingdom, because most animals do not show signs of compassion for other species. That is not to say that it is unheard of, though it is extremely rare. Dolphins, on the other hand, are frequently seen interacting with and assisting other species. They can often be seen playing with whales and humans, and, in many cases, rescuing them from certain danger.
Probably the most well known story of a dolphin helping humans is the legend of Hatteras jack. It is said that sometime in the late 1700’s sailors began seeing an albino dolphin in the treacherous waters of Cape Hatteras. The dolphin would appear before ships after they blew their foghorn for him. He would then guide them through the area to safety. It is said that Hatteras Jack could gauge the size of the ship he was guiding and would not see it through until the tide was high enough for the ship to pass. After the ships were out of danger, Hatteras Jack would show off for the sailors before leaving. Legend has it that Hatteras Jack never lost a ship.
More recent cases of dolphins assisting other species include that of the rescue of two disoriented whales in New Zealand. In March of 2008 witnesses reported that they saw a bottlenose dolphin, named Moko, rescue two stranded whales. The whales had been beaching themselves and were becoming very confused. Human rescuers had been attempting to guide the two whales to safety for hours when Moko turned up. Somehow the dolphin managed to coerce the whales into following a safer course.
Another interesting case is that of a man who was rescued by a pod of bottlenose dolphins. The man was surfing in Monterey Bay in California when he was attacked by a great white shark. The shark bit into the man’s back and one of his legs while the man tried desperately to fight it off. A pod of six dolphins appeared and began stirring up the water around the scene of the attack. Eventually the man was able to escape the shark’s jaws for a moment and the dolphins immediately formed a barricade between the man and the shark. Onlookers quickly brought the man to shore. He survived the attack, but just barely.
Another documented case of a pod of dolphins protecting rescuing humans occurred off of the coast of New Zealand. A man, his daughter and her two friends were going on a long swim in the ocean when a pod of dolphins began swimming agitatedly around them. The group initially believed that the dolphins were attacking them, because the dolphins were forcing them to crowd together. The man tried to break free, but two of the dolphins forced him back into the group. It was then that the man saw what was causing the dolphins to behave that way, a great white shark. The dolphins remained around the swimmers for forty minutes. When they had effectively scared off the shark, they simply swam away. The group made it safely to shore, only then did the man tell the young women what he had seen.
Dolphins are the subject of much fascination and wonder for the human race. They frequently display their intelligence and what seems to be compassion. Some people believe that they may even have intelligence to equal that of humans.
To see an interesting dolphin video click here.
Dolphin Saves Swimmers from Great White Shark (November 23, 2004), retrieved 6/2/09, www.thatsweird.net/news30.shtml
CDNN, Dolphin Rescues Stranded Whale, retrieved 6/2/09, www.cdnn.info/news/eco/e080312.html
Free, Cathy, Shark! How One Surfer Survived an Attack, retrieved 6/1/09, www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/shark-attack-dolphins-save-surfer-from-shark/article77866.html