An errant bottlenose dolphin nicknamed ‘Moko’ has effectively dealt Hawkes Bay’s “Friends of Marineland” a crippling blow in their plight to replace Marineland’s dolphins.

The bottlenose’s re-appearance in Mahia waters today prompted an urgent request from DoC’s programme manager Jamie Quirk for locals to – “give the mammal space“.

Moko, it seems, has outgrown the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Quirk’s imperative was the coup de grâce for the group’s mammal re-integration programme, and the end of the road for the beleaguered (and still unaccounted for) 13,588 signature petition – we guess it’s slipped somewhere behind Russell Fairbrother’s fridge.

Friends of Marineland’s spokesman, Harry Lawson, told BayBuzz the news was devastating. “We simply haven’t the funds to build a pool the size of the Mahia inlet,” Harry said.

Also included in DoC’s press release today were Mr Quirk’s hints and tips for locals intending to get up close to Moko – a type of Dolphin Handling for Dummies. Here are two of our favourites: “If swimming with dolphins, avoid wearing suntan lotion, as chemicals in the water can irritate the animals’ eyes”…and our personal favourite…”Aircraft should maintain a safe distance of at least 150 metres from dolphins and should not fly directly overhead”.
Well, haven’t we come a long way since Opo and the heady anthropomorphic inter-mammalian relations of the 50’s. Back then, dolphins socialising with primates wasn’t such a bad thing. Just five decades on, and not only is it not kosher to house dolphins in marine zoos, but we’re also asked to conduct ourselves accordingly when viewing them from the sky.

Well Mr Quirk, BayBuzz thought we’d come up with some additional pointers for today’s maligned dolphin enthusiast:

* Remember cell phones interfere with dolphins’ echolocation. (Many bottlenose beachings have been attributed to Mayday calls from boaties).

* If swimming with dolphins use lycra-based swimwear – cotton has been linked to outbreaks of eczema in Hector dolphins.

* When taking dolphins home as pets, there are a few must do’s: fill bath (cold water only), add two teaspoons of baking soda and stir, immerse, sit next to dolphin and make soothing clicks, whistles and squeaks. You’re now ready to transport to inflatable pool. Generally speaking, dolphin pups aren’t ready to be brought home until they’re one month of age.

* A local by-law anomaly means you don’t have to register porpoises, yet it’s illegal to keep an unregistered dolphin. This can be done at your local council.

* When out fishing, remember, ‘blowholes aren’t rod holders.’

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