Moko, the resident bottlenose dolphin at Mahia, was the heroine of the day last week.
The amazing story of how a dolphin helped save a stranded pygmy sperm whale mother and her calf made news headlines in NZ – and was even picked up by media around the world!
Read the story here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4436390a11.html
The area around Mahia, on NZ’s east coast of the North Island, is a hot spot for whale strandings. Pygmy sperm whales in particular strand here quite often. If you’re not sure where Mahia is, check out the big strandings hot spot map in the Whales Tohorä exhibition at Te Papa.
Malcolm Smith, from the Department of Conservation, with the help of locals tried to refloat the whales several times – but each time they restranded. When Moko showed up, it seems the dolphin was able to help the whales find their way safely back out to sea.
So what does a pygmy sperm whale look like? In our office the Whales team have a mascot - an old museum model of a pygmy sperm whale calf, shown here with its ‘keeper’, Lucy Ryan.
And if you come and visit the exhibition, in the ‘Feeding’ interactive you can see a video clip of a young pygmy sperm whale being hand fed.