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CNN WORLD REPORT

Dolphin Befriends Researchers

Aired July 22, 2001 - 14:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASIEH NAMDAR, CNN ANCHOR: Dolphins are known for their grace, intelligence and friendliness.

SHIHAB RATTANSI, CNN ANCHOR: And in the first of six reports, we will introduce you now to Jock, a dolphin that befriended a group of Australians. Members of the group say the young mammal has changed their lives forever. In this segment, Melody Horrill takes us to Adelaide, where Jock's the story begins.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELODY HORRILL, NETWORK TEN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Ten years ago, an amazing thing happened here at the Port River in Adelaide, South Australia. A wild, lonely dolphin befriended a small group of people, touching their lives in an unforgettable way.

I was lucky enough to be a part of that privileged group, and now the time has come to tell the incredible story of Jock the dolphin.

(voice-over): At first sight, the Port River could be a remote wilderness, but in fact it flows in a city of one million people, and that makes the dolphins that live here among the most unusual in the world.

For 15 years, marine biologist Dr. Mark Bossley has studied the dolphins who share their home with the people of Adelaide.

He has named almost 300, identifying them by the nicks and notches in their dorsal fins. Like all dolphins, the portrait of the community is highly socialized. Its members live, hunt and play in complex groupings of families and friends.

Nowhere else do dolphins live this close to a city. But one very special dolphin moved even closer.

Jock was what scientists call a solitary dolphin. His behavior was so strange that Dr. Bossley often videotaped him. Jock lived alone in a small harbor, the Adelaide's major power station at Torrens Island. He could often be seen endlessly circling one particular boat, moored to a pontoon. Dr. Bossley believes Jock had never learned social skills because his mother died when he was a baby.

DR. MIKE BOSSLEY, MARINE BIOLOGIST: The trauma of being orphaned at a young age meant that he sort of still had an attachment to one small part of the river, a part that hardly any other dolphins went into. And that meant that he just didn't have any social, normal social contact, and so he grew up not really as part of the society.

HORRILL: Jock's appearance also set him apart. He was smaller than the other adolescent dolphins, and also had a deformity. Injuries caused by fishing line left his dorsal fin mangled. Fishing hooks had also scarred his mouth and his back bore marks of an apparent spear attack.

BOSSLEY: I used to think of him as a punk, actually a punk dolphin, because he always had these hooks in him or bits of line and that's what he seemed to be. And he lived alone, and he was very different to the other dolphins that I had come a little bit in the Port River.

For the first months and months, I used to just sit in my little boat, quite a long way away from where he had this routine of swimming round and round, and just used to watch him. I just found that it so different from normal dolphin behavior that it was kind of fascinating.

HORRILL: But that was only the start of Jock's very different behavior. Because he didn't have any family or friends, Jock began to reach out to humans.

BOSSLEY: Within a few months, he was quite clearly approaching us and seemed to take. At first, I would guess, a kind of curiosity for him, but later eventually got to the stage where he would approach us from quite a long way away, and I think we were filling some kind of a gap in his life.

HORRILL: And even more than that, he started to make friends with Dr. Bossley and his research assistants, of which I was one. Eventually, the contact went beyond our wildest dreams, and we were welcomed into a world that few have ever experienced.

STEVE WINES, RESEARCH ASSISTANT: It was quite bizarre (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Now, I thought what I did then was to have a game with this dolphin, but I realized what has actually happened is that the dolphin tricked us to get into the water so he could have a game with us. We were a distraction from this dolphin's daily routine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was incredible. If it hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't have believed it was possible.

HORRILL: But despite all this joy, there would in time be a tragic side to Jock's story, an insidious threat that served a warning to us all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a focal point for this environment and the broader issues confronting this environment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RATTANSI: And that's the first of six segments about the dolphins of Australia. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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