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US Woman killed Swimming with Dolphins in NZ

Posted by feww on October 20, 2009

American Woman Killed in New Zealand while Swimming with [Agitated] Dolphins

A 27-year-old American woman on an “eco-tour” was killed this morning while swimming with a school of dolphins in Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand.

In December last year, Moko, a three-year-old bottlenose dolphin,  who had been swimming off a local beach for more than 18 months, bringing fish and seahorses for people, was reported as being abused.


Moko, a bottlenose who normally spends her time playing, bailed out two pygmy sperm whales that humans were struggling to help.The whales, a mother and calf, were stranded on Mahia Beach and had been in the care of human rescuers for over an hour. Initally successful, the workers were horrified to see the whales beach themselves again on a sandbar four times, indicating that they were probably on their way to an agonizing, complex death. It was at that point, Moko, who was described by an official on the scene as “altruistic” appeared, and let the pygmy sperm whales 200 yards down the beach to an open channel. There have been many instances of dolphins assisting weak swimmers, which may be instinctual, but this appears to be the first instance of interspecies help. Source of image and caption. May be subject to copyright. [Via NewZeelend]

Swimmers were  “roughhousing” with Moko, scarring his skin with sharp fingernails, watches and items of jewelery.

Moko finally left Mahia in late August 2009 after more than two years.

A report released in  July, 2007 said:

Fiordland is one of the most popular areas for eco-tourists coming to New Zealand, but a report released late yesterday revealed vessels in Doubtful Sound are hurting the viability of the dolphin population there.

“It is highly likely that the existing range and intensity of impacts will lead to the Doubtful Sound complex dolphin population becoming extinct within 45 years,” according to a report released by NZ’s Department of Conservation (DOC).

There were 69 dolphins in the Doubtful Sound community in 1994, but by 2006, that had dropped to 56, with more dolphins dying or being killed than were being born.

A report by a marine ecologist, David Lusseau, who studied the Doubtful Sound dolphins from 1999 to 2002, revealed that  dolphins were diving for longer periods to avoid boats.

“Dive intervals were significantly longer when boat were present.”

His study showed 70.6 per cent of dolphin-boat interactions violated the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations …

In the five year period from 1994 to 1999, there were stillbirths in two of the years averaging 0.6 stillbirths a year, however, “between 2000 and 2006 this figure increased to stillbirths in five of the six years, to average 1.6 a year.” [Jumped by nearly 6 folds!]

dead-baby-dolphins.jpg
The Baby Dolphins Death Row

cut-open-by-ecotourism.jpg
Deep Cut: photos courtesy of Care For The Wild International

injured-mutiliated-killed.jpg
Dead Hector’s Dolphin: More marine mammals are being injured and killed in collisions with boats carrying Eco-tourists in New Zealand. Photo courtesy of CDNN

“Eco-Tourism” Swim Programs

Dolphins can and do act aggressively toward humans in eco-tour swim programs due to the tremendous stress caused by hordes of  tourists visiting marine habitat day in, day out.

Injuries inflicted on people by stressed dolphins  include broken arms, broken ribs, lacerations … and  death!

Related Links:

14 Responses to “US Woman killed Swimming with Dolphins in NZ”

  1. annie said

    [and the point you’re trying to make? Moderator]

  2. EE said

    [Thank you for electrifying input! Moderator]

  3. D.F. said

    [Are you serious? Moderator]

  4. sadye said

    [Thank you! Moderator]

  5. ais said

  6. te2ataria said

    Swedish Woman Killed in New Zealand Swimming with Dolphins. The Swede was [at least] the 1,964th foreigner to be killed in NZ. Posted by te2ataria on November 20, 2010.

    http://newzeelend.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/another-swedish-woman-killed-in-new-zealand/

  7. […] US Woman killed Swimming with Dolphins in NZ […]

  8. […] Any corporation, organization, product or concept that Google or its partners have a stake in, or could be affected by the adverse publicity through […]

  9. […] American Woman Killed in New Zealand while Swimming with [Agitated] Dolphins […]

  10. te2ataria said

    Notice how the American woman’s death is being trivialized and conveniently spun out of the news by various government agencies. TEAA

    o0o

    Dolphin swimmer’s death due to ‘natural causes’
    The Marlborough Express – Last updated 13:00 29/10/2009

    The Department of Labour and Maritime New Zealand will not investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of an American tourist in the Marlborough Sounds.

    American tourist, Emily May Harper, 27, of Denver, Colorado, was swimming with the dolphins in Tory Channel on a Dolphin Watch EcoTours trip when she was found floating face down in the water on October 20.

    The tourist boat came into Waikawa Marina and was met by a coastguard vessel with a paramedic on board, but the woman had died.

    Department of Labour spokesman Colin Patterson said the department would not be investigating further.

    “It’s our belief that the woman died of natural causes.”

    He said the death was a police matter.

    Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson said investigators went to Picton to find out if they should look into the incident, but found it did not fall into their jurisdiction.

    Coroner Sue Johnson said the provisional post-mortem suggested Miss Harper did not drown, but died of natural causes.

    However, she was waiting on blood tests, including toxicology results, before making a final ruling on the cause of death.

    The autopsy results are expected within the next six weeks.

    Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Miss Harper’s partner, Matthew Hawkins, waved a multitool (a pocket knife) at paramedics when it became apparent they could not save her.

    Senior Constable Brett Parkinson, of Picton police, said Miss Harper’s fiance, Matthew Hawkins, picked up a multitool, which he used to cut Miss Harper’s wetsuit.

    Mr Parkinson said the man became increasingly agitated as he watched his partner die and started waving it around.

    “I don’t think he knew what he was doing himself.”

    Mr Parkinson said the man did not threaten anyone else. He freely handed the multitool to police.

    St John regional operations manager Chris Haines said it was rare for staff to come across aggressive patients or bystanders.

    He said officers made allowances for patient and bystander emotions, which could run high.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3011172/Dolphin-swimmers-death-due-to-natural-causes
    © 2009 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

  11. feww said

    Is it safe to swim with dolphins and seals?
    By MP1116 Asked Feb 1 2004 8:30PM
    http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/2876

    No, it is never safe to swim with wild oceanic mammals, despite their lovable and friendly demeanor that you see in water parks, such as Sea World. The animals you see in water parks and Aquariums are trained and spend their lives in captivity, exposed to humans regularly. When these animals are in the wild, it is a completely different story.

    Dolphins are naturally curious and playful animals, and will not outright attack humans. If anything, they will be curious as to this new animal in their pod, and will probably avoid a person that swims near them. In some areas of the world, namely the Caribbean, wild dolphins will often freely swim up to people and interact with them. However, these are not naturally common behaviors among dolphins. If a dolphin perceives a human as a threat, then the consequences could be life-threatening. A curious, painless bump may be the initial investigation, and if the dolphin decides it doesn’t like you, it will probably swim away. If you pursue or harass a dolphin however, you may be in for a bad day. Dolphins have been known to kill sharks by ramming them with their heads (most notably the long snout) at tremendous speed. Needless to say, one well placed ram and you’ll be dead…at the speed which dolphins move, an attack ram could break many bones in one strike, causing life threatening injury or death. It is not advisable to swim amongst dolphins, unless the locals or an instructor says it is safe. Needless to say swimming with them in the open ocean is a very bad idea, since dolphins are the last thing you’ll have to worry about.

    The same goes for seals. Seals are not quite as playful as dolphins, and when approached by a human, they will be more likely to retreat. Though not aggressive, there have been instances where seals have bitten divers and swimmers who have gotten too close, particularly if they tried to touch or grab them. Seals are essentially like aquatic dogs…they are ‘cute and cuddly’ and may be curious and playful with a human. However, caution should always be observed, since seals can grow very large, and if they feel threatened, they may attack by ramming and biting, particularly if there are pups around.

    Finally, there is another reason you shouldn’t swim with these animals…when you are swimming with them, you will appear to look like one of them. That is inviting, as usual, a shark attack. Dolphins and especially Seals are natural prey of sharks. If you were to dare swim with these animals, you are risking your life. In fact, you may be more of an open target than the seals and dolphins would be, since humans, when they swim, are more erratic and give off more detectable waves of energy when they swim, which resemble a fish, or in this case, a dolphin or seal in distress. This past summer in 2003, in the United States, a woman was killed by a Great White Shark off the California coastline while she was swimming with Seals. Obviously, the commotion caused by patterns of human swimming drew the shark to her more than the seals, because to the shark she appeared to be in distress. It is never advisable to swim in an area where seals congregate, which is usually large rocks along coastline, jutting out of water that can be anywhere from 5 to 25 feet deep. These are prime hunting grounds for sharks. Even Orcas, or ‘Killer Whales’, which normally feed on seals, may mistake a human being for a seal and attack. A person would be more likely to survive a shark attack than an Orca attack, simply because Orcas have such tremendous biting power in their jaws, and their heavily muscular bodies allow them to propel themselves at lightning speed underwater, and if you were unfortunate enough to be in the path of an Orca, you would probably not survive. However, you would be more likely to be attacked by a shark in these cases. If you feel the need to swim with dolphins and seals, ask yoir local Fisheries coordinator if there are any programs like that around. Typically, the best place to do this is in the Southeastern and Southwestern United States, the Caribbean, and some other countries. NEVER do this in the open ocean, or in an area where it is not designated that you can do so.

    • Stephen Post said

      The only record of a human being killed by an orca is IN captivity and never in the wild. I could go on and on about sharks and swimming in then open ocean and seals of which I and many others partake in as common practice. These creatures are far more predictable than your average human on a Friday night.

  12. te2ataria said

    What’s So Fishy About This Dolphin Story?
    NZ Police Swapping Dead American Bodies?
    First they were Married; Then Barely Engaged. One second she was alive; the next she was dead floating face down on water.
    http://newzeelend.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/whats-so-fishy-about-this-dolphin-story/

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