Learning English - Words in the News
01 December, 2004 - Published 12:39 GMT
Dolphins protect swimmers from shark
A group of swimmers has described how a pod of dolphins protected them from a great white shark off the coast of New Zealand. The lifeguards were on a training swim when they encountered a three-metre shark before the dolphins raced in to help. This report from Phil Mercer:
The swimmers were surrounded by the dolphins for forty minutes before they were able to make it safely back to the beach. It was an uncomfortable experience as they were circled by a great white shark, which came within a couple of metres of them. Lifeguard Rob Howes was in the water with two colleagues and his teenage daughter. He said around half a dozen dolphins suddenly appeared and herded the swimmers together. The mammals swam in tight circles to create a defensive barrier as the great white lurked under the surface.
The swimmers said the dolphins were extremely agitated and repeatedly slapped the water with their tails, presumably to try to deter the predator as it cruised nearby. It's a day they'll never forget, especially for one who was on her first day as a volunteer. They have no doubt that the dolphins acted deliberately to protect them. Researchers have said they're not surprised. A marine biologist insisted that dolphins, which are considered to be one of the most intelligent mammals, "like to help the helpless."
Phil Mercer, BBC News, Sydney
a defensive barrier
A marine biologist