Recently, a dolphin rescued 2 beached whales. But who will save dolphins from being caught in fishing nets? Ironically, the same sonar that probably beached those whales may help save the dolphins. Two beached whales?a mother and her calf?were recently stranded on a New Zealand beach. Rescuers desperately tried to push them back into the ocean before they expired, but even when they were able to get the huge mammals into the water again, they kept floating back into the sand. But then a dolphin came to the rescue, probably after hearing the whales’ cries for help.
In the March 13 edition of the British newspaper The Independent, Kathy Marks quotes local resident Malcolm Smith as saying, “They kept getting disoriented and stranding again. They obviously couldn’t find their way back past [the sandbar] to the sea.”
He was even considering killing the whales, to save them from a slow, painful death, when a dolphin the locals call Moko came to the rescue. Marks quotes Juanita Symes, one of the rescuers, as saying, “Moko just came flying through the water, and pushed in between us and the whales. She got them to head towards the hill, where the channel is. It was an amazing experience. The best day of my life.”
She quotes biologist Anton van Helden as saying, “We’ve seen bottlenose dolphins getting lifted up on the noses of humpback whales and getting flicked out of the water, just for fun, but it’s the first time I’ve heard of an inter-species refloating technique. I think it’s wonderful.”
A major threat to dolphins is getting caught in fishing nets?about 300,000 of them are caught in nets every year and many of them don?t survive. In BBC News, Jonathan Fildes quotes researcher Carl Tiltman as saying, “Most of the time they swim into the net because they can’t see it on their own sonar.”
But now sonar that is used to guide warships through underwater mine fields may be used to help prevent this. Small, football-sized devices could be inserted into fishing nets to reflect the dolphins? own sonar, warning them away. Fildes quotes Tiltman as saying, “It will know something is there and will not just swim straight into it.”
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