Meet Moko the dolphin that rescues stranded whales

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Wellington, Mar 12 : A dolphin amazed conservation workers when it swam up to two stranded whales that appeared to be heading for death on a beach in New Zealand and guided them to safety.

The dolphin named Moko, who has set up home around Mahia on the East Coast, turned out to be the perfect helper as Department of Conservation worker Malcolm Smith slogged to refloat the mother whale and her one-year-old male calf.

"It was amazing. It was like she grabbed them by the flipper and led them to safety," quoted Smith, as saying.

Smith described the situation when he received a call saying that two whales were stranded on the south end of Mahia Beach.

"Generally speaking when pygmy sperm whales strand they end up dying, or they are refloated only to strand again later in the day and die," Smith said.

"We worked for over an hour to try to get them back out to sea. . . but they kept getting disorientated and stranding again.

"There is a large sandbar just off the shore so that could have been very confusing for them - they obviously couldn't find their way back past it to the sea," he added.

He said that after four attempts by volunteers to refloat the pair failed, it was becoming highly likely they would have to be euthanized.

"The whales were getting tired and I was getting cold when Moko turned up," Smith said.

"She just came straight for us and escorted the two whales along the beach and out through the channel.

"The whales were sitting on the surface of the water quite distressed, they had arched their backs and were calling to one another, but as soon as the dolphin turned up they submerged into the water and followed her," he added.

The dolphin led the two pygmy sperm whales 200 meters along the beach and through a channel out to the open sea.

"The things that happen in nature never cease to amaze me," Smith said.

"It was looking like it was going to be a bad outcome for the whales which was very disappointing and then Moko just came along and fixed it," he added.

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