Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Lifeguards say dolphins saved them from shark

DPA , Wellington

A New Zealand lifeguard yesterday told how a pod of dolphins saved him and three young women from a large shark which threatened them on a training swim 100m offshore.

Rob Howe said he and his daughter were with two others at Ocean Beach, near Whangarei, when six or seven dolphins "raced in pretty quick and very, very agitated" and herded them together by turning tight circles around the group to protect them. He told Radio New Zealand the dolphins swam with the lifeguards four or five times every summer, but they were bemused by their agitated nature.

"They were turning really tight circles -- we had never come across it before," he said.

Unaware of what was happening, Howe said the dolphins kept the four of them together for quite a while before he and one of the women drifted 20m away from the other two.

"At that point a single dolphin came full bore at myself and submerged. I turned in the water to see where it was going to surface and that's when I saw a big grey mass just cruise by about 2m away, and the penny dropped.

"I looked in the direction of where the shark was going, which was directly towards the other two girls who at that time had about three dolphins going absolutely berserk around them.

"My heart went in my mouth because one of those was my daughter," he said.

Howe said the dolphins maintained their close circles on the girls until an inflatable rescue boat with another lifeguard who had seen what was happening arrived and confirmed the presence of a shark.

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