top of page

Do dolphins really save humans?

Stories of dolphins helping humans in trouble go back centuries. 


Some scientists believe that dolphins instinctively come to the assistance of other injured dolphins and that it's a small step for them to help humans too.


However dolphins obviously realise that humans aren’t dolphins. Some scientists think dolphins help humans merely because they are curious.


Although domestic animals, especially dogs, may help humans in trouble, it is almost unheard of for wild creatures to do so.


Can dolphins imagine what it’s like for the human in trouble, and help us because they feel for us? We don’t know the answer.


It is probably the tendancy of wild dolphins to help humans that makes us identify with them so much. Scientists may say that by thinking this, we wrongly suppose that dolphins share human thoughts and emotions. Perhaps though, if scientists are able to unlock the secret of dolphin communication, we will find out.


Dolphins lead researchers to girl in the water: Maddelana Bearzi told National Geographic that her team was studying bottlenose dolphins near the shore when one dolphin broke away from a feeding circle and set off into deeper waters. The other dolphins followed, as did the surprised researchers. After about three miles (5km), the dolphins circled a girl in the water. The researchers rescued the 18 year old girl had been suffering from hypothermia. If the dolphins hadn’t led them to her, she’d have died.


Dolphins save swimmer from sharks: In April 2014, swimmer Adam Walker was joined by dolphins to protect him from sharks on an eight hour endurance swim between New Zealand’s two main islands. When a shark started following him, a pod of dolphins started to circle him, apparently to protect him from the shark. The pod stayed with him for over an hour. (see video) Source Metro


Dolphins lead divers to safety:  In 2004 the Telegraph reported that a group of divers, lost in the Red Sea  for over 13 hours, feared they would die before dolphins led rescuers to them.


The crew of the rescue boat that eventually found them said there were dolphins jumping across the prow of their boat in the direction the group were in. The dolphins seem to have been drawing attention to the lost divers.


Dolphins save Puerto Princesa fisherman: In 2008 a pod of dolphins in the Philipines saved a local fisherman from drowning after his small boat overturned in a storm. The dolphins may have even known the fisherman, who was alo an official dolphin warden in his town. Source: Inquirer.


Dolphins save surfer from sharks: MSNBC report that in 2007 a pod of bottlenose dolphins in California formed a protective ring around a surfer that had just been attacked by a great white shark, allowing him to get to shore and saving his life.


Dolphins save injured diver:  The Underwater Times report that in 2006 dolphins drew attention to a lone scuba diver, who had been knocked unconscious in the sea near the Channel Islands (between England and France)


Dolphins save boaters in 2004 tsunami: In 2004 a scuba diving instructor was in the sea off Thailand with diving crews when the tsunami hit.  He says he was saved because he followed dolphins to safety. HawaiiDolphinRetreat


Dolphin saves boy’s life: In 2000 it was reported that a dolphin called Filippo saved a boy from drowning when he fell from his father's boat on the Italian coast. Eurocbc 


Beluga whale saves diver: The Telegraph reports that during a freediving competition in the 'arctic' tank at an aquarium in China, a distressed diver was guided to the surface by a beluga whale called Mila, saving the diver's life.


Dolphin appears to rescue whalesIn 2008 a bottlenose dolphin called Moko  successfully lead a stranded pygmy sperm whale mother and calf back out to sea after several unsuccessful rescue attempts by humans off the New Zealand coast. See MSNBC.


These stories suggest that dolphins, like humans, will help other creatures without thought for themselves. Dolphins of course aren't nice all the time, but this selfless behaviour makes them stand out from almost all other creatures.






bottom of page