Dolphins Saving Humans: 7 Inspiring Stories of Altruism From Our Flippered-Friends

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Dolphins saving humans is not such a strange concept. Scientists are still divided about the social behaviors of dolphins in relation to “rescuing” humans, but these events where dolphins have come to aid people in need show that people and animals aren’t so far apart. There is a deep bond between us, and it comes in the form of bravery and kindness.

A pod of dolphins leads humans to a drowning girl

Maddalena Bearzi and her fellow scientists were studying bottlenose dolphins in Los Angeles, California back in 2014. They’d been tracking the dolphins’ foraging grounds and they were pretty much used to the animals’ behaviors. On one of their excursions, Bearzi’s team noticed that one dolphin was veering away from the pod. Soon, the rest of the dolphins followed.

Curious, Bearzi and her team followed the dolphins on their boat. They found the dolphins gathered around what seemed like a floating, lifeless body of a young woman. They called the lifeguards on their radio, but were told to wait for their arrival. Bearzi knew that if they waited, the girl would die. So, they fished her out and got her warm.

The young woman was not American, so they had a hard time communicating with her. She had a plastic bag tied around her neck. Inside it was her visa and a note that she was going to commit suicide. Bearzi took the girl with them to Marina del Rey, where she was eventually taken to the hospital. The doctor said she would pull through. The girl was from Germany but was taking a vacation in Los Angeles. And yes, she was attempting a suicide. The dolphins had sensed the girl and her distress. Without them, Bearzi and her team would never have been able to save her.

Dolphin saves teenager from drowning

In 2000, Davide Ceci fell from his father’s boat. The 14-year-old boy couldn’t swim very well. Fortunately, Filippo the dolphin came to his rescue. The dolphin was actually popular among tourists in the south-Italy waters. Davide’s father didn’t even know that his son was drowning. Filippo helped the boy get closer to the boat so that his father, who finally realized his son had fallen off the boat, could grab him.

According to the maritime researchers of the area, Filippo was not afraid of humans and was, in fact, quite used to their presence. Davide’s mother called Filippo a hero, saying she couldn’t believe that a dolphin had saved her son’s life.

Dolphins protect swimmers from shark

Another case of dolphins saving humans happened twice in New Zealand. In 2004, four people were about to encounter a shark. They didn’t know it at first because a pod of dolphins had formed a circle around them. They thought the animals were just playing at first. Rob Howes, one of the swimmers, attempted to swim away, but the dolphins herded him back into the circle. It was then that Howes, together with his daughter and her two friends, saw that a 10-foot long Great White was headed their way.

The dolphins formed a circle around them for 40 minutes until the shark went away. A lifeguard actually saw the action a few feet away from his lifeboat. He saw that a large shark was approaching and that the dolphins were trying to protect the swimmers. Environmental researchers who learned about the incident said that the dolphins were always keeping an eye out for sharks so they could protect their young. They sensed danger and extended that protection to the swimmers. Watch the BBC reenactment of dolphins saving humans below:


Dolphins swim with human to shield him from shark

In another incident, this time in 2014, British swimmer Adam Walker wanted to complete the Oceans Seven challenge. The challenge was to swim through the seven toughest open water areas in the world. While trying to complete his challenge between New Zealand’s two main islands, he spotted a shark following him. Walker didn’t want to stop and, fortunately, he didn’t have to. Dolphins swam with him for an hour as he completed his swim. It wasn’t just the dolphins on a jaunt with a human. According to Walker, the dolphins had surrounded him and were shielding him from the shark till he was out of the predator’s reach.

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Dolphins help mauled surfer get to shore after shark attack

In 2007, Todd Endris was attacked by a shark. He might not have made it back alive had dolphins not come to his rescue. The surfer was with his friends in Monterey, California. Todd was sitting on his surfboard when a Great White shark came out of nowhere and attacked him. The shark bit down on Todd, who suffered major injuries to his back and right leg. It was a bloody assault, but he managed to kick the shark in the snout.

The shark released him. A group of dolphins then came to encircle Todd, who was trying to swim away with a mauled back and one good leg. While the dolphins protected Todd, he was able to get back on his surfboard and eventually swim back to shore. Todd could have died of blood loss, but the people on the beach were quick to get him help. After a few months of healing and therapy, Todd went back to the water with no grudge against the shark.

Dolphins lead rescuers to lost divers

In 2004, foreign divers were lost in the Red Sea for a little more than 13 hours. They had been swept away from their Egyptian guide and diving boat and couldn’t find the way back. Rescue boats and planes were unable to spot them. They thought for sure they were going to die. Most of them were experienced divers, but they were in strange waters.

About 8:30 PM, the divers were rescued. The divers were glad they were finally found. One thing that amazed them was that the boat that found them talked about how dolphins helped them find the divers. It was another case of dolphins saving humans. According to the boat’s crew, the animals were jumping over the prow of the boat and leading them to where the divers were floating. One of the divers said that he had heard the dolphins while they were in the water. It seemed that they were leading the nearest boat to the divers’ location.

Man attacked by shark is rescued by three dolphins

In 1996, Yitzhak Hermon carried a group of tourists on his boat. Off the Sinai shore, the passengers were looking at the dolphins that were playing around their boat. Three of the passengers decided to swim with the dolphins. The other two came back, but the other one decided to stay in a bit.

The British tourist who was still in the water suddenly gave a cry for help. Blood blossomed around him, and the crew knew he was being attacked by sharks. Help had to come quickly boat because there was more than one predator in the water with the tourist. Three dolphins were quicker, though. They encircled Richardson, the tourist, then flapped and smacked their fins and tails on the water to scare away the sharks. The crew managed to rescue Richardson in time.

Dolphins saving humans

Dolphins have been known to help people and animals in distress since the beginning of time. This act of altruism is inspiring in a sense that dolphins don’t discriminate who they befriend. They’ve been known to interact with humans, dogs, and other creatures in the water. In fact, in 1983, a pod of dolphins helped pilot whales get back into the water after they were washed nearly ashore during ebb-tide in New Zealand. These dolphins swam close to the shore and herded the whales back into the water. Dolphins saving humans is certainly not a far stretch for these flippered-heroes.

ALSO READ: Animal Rescuers: Unsung Heroes Who Dedicate Their Lives to Saving Animals

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