Most bottlenose dolphins
live happily in pods ranging from 2 to 25. But on rare occasions some will seek out the company of humans and shun their dolphin friends. Moko the dolphin did just that.
Moko first appeared in Mahia in March 2007. He befriended local divers, swimmers and boaties and was named after the nearby Mokotahi headland. After thrilling locals for more than 2 years he moved to Gisborne and then Whakatane, which became his home for six months.
Along the way he made headline news and gained worldwide media attention.
In 2008 he came to the rescue of two stranded pygmy sperm whales. Rescuers tried repeatedly to refloat the whales only to see them beach on a large sandbar offshore. Responding to their distress calls, Moko appeared and escorted the disorientated mother and calf through a narrow channel and out to sea.
As well as saving whales Moko was also known for his playful antics. His favourite games included stealing toys, playing fetch and pushing kayaks through the water with his snout. Sometimes Moko even turned up with presents of fish for his human friends.
Sadly, Moko the friendly dolphin died in June 2010. After following a boat out of Whakatane, his body was discovered some weeks later on a small island close to Tauranga. The exact cause of death is still unknown.