As a result of Moko (the bottlenose dolphin) presence in the Waimata and Turanganui Rivers over the weekend Department of Conservation (DOC) again repeats their public warning message about safety.
It is good to see that generally the public are enjoying interacting with Moko and his presence provides the public with an unique opportunity to see a marine mammal at close proximity. However, DOC is continually receiving phone calls from the public concerning safety when interacting with Moko. One incident was reported to DOC of a jet-skier attempting to ram Moko. The actual event involved a jet-skier recovering a ball that a small child had taken to play with Moko. DOC have previously discouraged the public providing Moko with toys to play with and this type of event with the jetski is avoidable if the public follow advice from the Department when interacting with Moko.
DOC Ranger, Jamie Quirk said that the Department administers the Marine Mammals Protection Act which is there for the protection of Moko. However, it is obvious with the recent excitement that Moko causes water safety is often forgotten.
“We have been in contact with Water Safety New Zealand General Manager, Matt Claridge, who stated that he understands the attraction of interacting with Moko but wants people to ensure they remain safe while swimming. It's important that the public’s enthusiasm to swim with Moko doesn't lead to trouble. Mr Claridge’s advice is to know your swimming limits and stay within them, never swim alone or at night and remain vigilant in terms of supervising young children - keep them within sight and reach at all times” said Mr Quirk.
Guidelines for swimming with Moko Moko, a male bottlenose dolphin, has visited Mahia since 2007 and is now visiting the East Coast. He is a large, strong, wild animal, not a pet. If you get the chance to swim with Moko, for his sake and your own safety, please respect the following guidelines:
- Ensure that children are well supervised when in the water near Moko
- Do not try to handle Moko
- Do not surround the dolphin – always allow him to have an escape route where he can safely move to deep water
- Do not attempt to ride or be towed by Moko
If you have any concerns for Moko’s welfare please call 0800 DOCHOT (362468)