Moko the Dolphin
Moko the friendly bottlenose dolphin, The true story about this super friendly dolphin and how he ripped our town apart in more ways than one.
Moko was a wild but highly interactive Bottlenose dolphin who first took up residence in the Mahia - Gisborne Area in 2002.
Romour has it that in late 2009 early 2010 he was lured out of Gisborne by a commercial fishing boat which was towing a float. Although it saddened many people in the area Mokos presence was becoming controversial as his supper friendliness and often boisterous behaviour was causing problems with much of the water born community i.e. swimmers, surfers, boaties and the like.
Then on the 13th January 2010 Moko appeared at Omaio Bay about 50 Kms North East of Opotiki where he became over friendly with some canoeists, interfering with their training. In an attempt to move Moko away one of the paddlers slapped the water several times with her paddle.
This was missinterpreted by a nearby observer who reported that they witnessed Moko being struck and so a Media frenzy and public Witch hunt ensued for the ruthless offender because without doulbt poor Moko must be injured.
Then several days later Moko turned up at the Eastern end of Whale Island aka Moutohora Island, where he was first spotted by some fisherman.
Being highly interactive it was not long before several boats gathered and people entered the water to swim with him. The following day Moko was still at Whale Island and that was when we first meet him returning from an offshore Dolphin swimming trip.
Moko had captured a Kingfish about 650 mm long and held it captive forcing it to stay swimming with the people.
One of our crew Allan, videod the action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ89m_MAuZQ&feature=plcp
Our group swam with him and that was when we first learnt the dangers that swimmers who rely on flutter boards or noodles for floatation face when Moko takes these devices from them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWIcf0qjas8&feature=relmfu
That afternoon a fierce Southerly wind blew up and we remained the only boat with Moko as it was getting quite rough.
As we departed Moko accompanied us all the way home, 9.6 Ks and into the Whakatane harbour. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLHeRD3TwpU&feature=relmfu
As we entered the Whakatane Harbor I informed the local Coastguard and the Department of Conservation that Moko had followed us. We lead Moko up to a large steel fishing vessel the Evelyn J which was moored adjacent to our Wharf berth. I had already gathered that Moko had an attraction to metal boats rather than timber or fibreglass from my observations earlier in the day when he seemed to be getting a sensation when nusseling into our aluminium swim ladder. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L5oOuqOlmw&feature=relmfu
So began Moko in Whakatane, a situation which first brought a lot of happiness to many, but to me and not to much later on.. deep regret.
Later that afternoon when the word had got out quite a crowd gathered to watch Moko as he rested by the Evelyn J and then later came closer to the riverbank where people started interacting.
The following morning Moko was gone from the river which was a bit of a relief as I didnt think the river would have been the healthiest environment for him. Several days of bad weather followed with very little boat traffic.
I think had we left Moko at Whale Island he may very well have moved on and avoided Whakatane all together.
Several days later we had a Dolphin swimming trip so were looking forward to maybe finding Moko at Whale Island, but as we departed I thought we should head to West end as I heard a whisper that some surfers had a problem with Moko trying to separate surfers from there boards at West End. As we cruised off Westend, sure enough Moko was suddenly there beside us and happy to stay with us. It was to rough to swim with him in the open and Moko escorted us all the way in to the shelter of Otarawaireri Bay where we introduced him to the mooring bouy and spent a great hour with him.
When we departed Moko remained with the bouy. The following days Dolphin trip was almost a repeat episode and we had a great encounter with photos.
Moko entertained many people and became the focal point of our community while he was here.
Unfortunately Moko was lured away to Tauranga harbour 75 kms further up the coast and then disappeared after several weeks.
A month later the decomposed carcase of a bottlenose dolphin matching Mokos description was located on Matakana Island, Tauranga.
A necropsy into the cause of Mokos death was not conclusive due to the stage of decompsition.
Moko will be sadly missed by many.
Follow these links to some amazing Moko antics
Moko on Youtube
Moko in Picasa web albums
Diveworks dolphins and seals
Moko the Dolphin