If you go down to the beach today
You'll be in for a surprise
"If you go down to the beach today, be sure for a big surprise.
If you go down to the beach today, you better just open your eyes!
The Dolphins are there, out in the surf.
frolicking and playing for all their worth.
Because today's the say the Dolphins are having their PICNIC"
Okay, I know. I've just butchered your favorite children's song, I've taken something dear to many and turned it into a piece of gibberish that means little to most of you. But I want to show you something.
I know some of the folks who're reading this hub don't get to the ocean very often, some of you may never have been to it and only seen it on TV. Well I want to take a few minutes to tell you about an amazing little friend (actually some of them I just discovered aren't that little but still amazing) we people have in the animal kingdom that lives in the sea.
They are friends as well, in a place where man hasn't got many and even the environment itself is dangerous to him these amazing creatures have been our friends since they first met us and they continue to be so, they are Dolphins
See a Dolphin in action
An amazing little creature
New Zealand in some ways is a land of the weird and wonderful. Our national symbol is a bird that can't fly (it does have wings but they are totally useless as they are so small you almost can't see them, but it's still a bird!). Before men arrived here the land was a land of birds and insects with no large animals, kind of a prototype for the "Land that Time forgot"
The waters around New Zealand are just as interesting with all sorts of sea life in the waters around it's shores. We don't have the amazing coral reef like the Great Barrier reef, but with thousands of islands all around, Whales passing on their yearly migration and the best of all the Dolphin.
A few years ago we were on holiday on the Coromandel peninsular and looking out to sea was the most amazing sight. Just out in the bay was a pod of Orcas! The killer whale as they are called, absolutely stunning to see these amazing creatures swimming in the bay, but the amazing thing was just further along was another pod. Dolphins!
First and foremost I need to explain that the Dolphin isn't a fish! Most of us would think that they are a fish, but fishes are 'cold blooded' where the Dolphin is 'warm blooded' and is actually a mammal.
Anyway, onto the species of Dolphin. You'll probably be surprised at what a Dolphin is and where you can find them.
- Common short beaked Dolphin. As it says they are the most common of all the species of this creature. They can grow up to 2.5 meters (about eight feet in length) and tend to be the acrobats of the marine world although they don't often end up in captivity. Although they are classed as the 'common Dolphin' they have actually been declining worldwide and man is the most common reason why. They aren't directly hunted in most places but often get caught in our fishing nets.
- Bottle nose Dolphin. The one you see the most in the sea world type shows. The Bottle nose is a real showoff and loves to perform. Not quite as big as the 'common' dolphin but just as friendly. The Bottle nosed dolphin has actually been known to come to our aid and chase off Sharks! Yep, they don't hunt them, but when a human is in danger apparently if there's a pod of dolphins nearby they don't hesitate, they attack and drive off the sharks!
Dolphins chasing a Hammerhead
In case you didn't get it first time!
Watch the Orca at work
A little friend
Find out more about these amazing creatures
Now for the rest
To me, just the fact that they actually hunt our most feared adversary in the sea and make that effort to protect us when we are out there swimming makes them something special. but let's look at some of the other species
- Dusky Dolphin. Not quite as big as the common dolphin and found only in the Southern hemisphere (Southern Africa, South America and New Zealand).
- Hector's Dolphin. Not quite the smallest, but one of the most rare in the world. Head out to sea from the upper North island and likely it'll be the Hector's Dolphin that will follow you and play around the boat. Only about four and a half feet long they are very playful and we just love having them around.
- The Pilot Whale. Isn't actually a whale (that was a surprise I found out researching this hub) but it's the largest Dolphin and at four and a half tons for an adult there aren't many things that threaten them. Sadly many times we see them it's in the tragic circumstances of beaching that we still don't understand why. Some claim that since ships started using sonar whale stranding has increased dramatically but not enough research has been done to show what's causing this.
- The Orca. Yes the Killer whale isn't actually a whale! It's a mean hunting dolphin that feeds on the biggest fish in the ocean. The Shark! Orcas can be found around New Zealand's shores.
- The Maui Dolphin. The smallest and rarest Dolphin on the planet. I have to be honest the reason for this hub is to share a little about the plight of the Maui Dolphin.
The Maui Dolphin is found only off the West coast of the North island and there are only about fifty five left. Not fifty five in the wild but fifty five total!
At only four feet long the Maui is the smallest of all the Dolphins and the most precious. You can only see them from one place, you have to take a boat from either Auckland or Raglan on the west coast of the North Island.
Sadly they also live in one of the best fishing grounds in the southern ocean and their biggest threat is simply fishing nets.
Just about every conservation group says that we are losing five adult Maui Dolphins a year to irresponsible fishing using fishing nets. That means that unless we change the way we do things in the next ten years one of mans greatest friends in the water could be extinct and it would be man who'd responsible!
What an we do?
There is something we can do to help protect the Dolphin. And it's very simple, buying fish that's been caught responsibly or farmed.
Since the 1970's fish farms have been slowly taking hold and fish such as Salmon and now Tuna have been farmed. It's the Tuna fish and fishing for it have been the cause of the problem. Now though there are fishnets that are 'Dolphin friendly' and the Dolphin can escape the net and swim away from the danger.
The other day I was buying my Tuna and noticed on the side of the tin it said "Caught without the use of fish aggregating devices" apparently it means that using a device that attracts even the smaller fish like the juveniles and even others that might be feeding on them (like the Dolphin) are caught up in the nets. Not using them means that the smaller fish and the Dolphin have a chance to survive. Just doing this and asking the big companies to look for better ways to fish sustainably so that the diversity of life can be preserved will be a major boost to keeping our planet alive and well.
Let's do it, so that our great little friend in the sea has a chance to live