Dolphins scare shark away from marathon swimmer

Dolphins scare off a shark during Adam Walker’s eight-hour, 36-minute swim across Cook Strait. Photo from Walker’s Facebook page

A pod of dolphins came to the aid of a marathon swimmer who suddenly noticed the presence of a 6-foot shark swimming below him during his 16-mile swim across New Zealand’s Cook Strait.

Adam Walker, attempting to become the first Brit to complete the Ocean’s Seven marathon swimming challenge, was fortunate to be surrounded by about 10 playful dolphins, which were helpful in scaring off the shark, possibly a great white, according to the Marlborough Express.

“I’d like to think they were protecting me and guiding me home,” Walker said on Facebook about the dolphins. “This swim will stay with me forever.”

Dolphins were playful and swam with Adam Walker for more than an hour. Photo from Walker’s Facebook page

Walker completed the swim from Wellington to Perano Head in eight hours, 36 minutes, leaving him with only the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland to conquer to complete the Ocean’s Seven.

Ocean’s Seven is to marathon swimmers what the Seven Summits is to mountain climbers. Ocean’s Seven is a series of seven long-distance, open-water swims across channels or straits across the globe, the English Channel being perhaps the most famous of the bunch.

Dolphins are known to have protected humans from sharks in the past. Photo from Adam Walker’s Facebook page

Before attempting to swim Cook Strait, Walker was told by legendary New Zealand swimmer Philip Rush, who has made the crossing eight times, that he didn’t have to worry about sharks.

“I had a go at him when I got out,” Walker told Marlborough Express.

Walker said there could have been more sharks checking him out along the way, but he noticed only the one.

Dolphins have been known to protect humans from sharks before. Whether that was their intent here remains conjecture. But it was fortunate for Walker that they arrived on the scene and swam with him for more than an hour, coming so close that a tail brushed him.

Here’s video of the dolphin encounter posted by Walker:

In his Facebook post, Walker wrote that there were rolling waves and strong currents, “but more important than that a dream come true swimming with dolphins over an hour…open-water swimming doesn’t get any better than this!”

Adam Walker is seeking to complete the Ocean’s Seven marathon swimming challenge. Photo from Walker’s Facebook page

Well, it could’ve been a bit better. Walker could’ve done without getting motion sickness, no doubt caused by those rolling waves.

“It was like swimming in a washing machine,” he told the Marlborough Express.

Constantly feeling ill, Walker was unable to keep food and liquids down.

But he persevered, thanks in large part to a pod of dolphins.

Note: With his swims, Walker raises money and awareness for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Here are his swims to date:

English Channel: July 2008, 11 hours, 35 minutes

Strait of Gibraltar: July 2010, 9 hours, 39 minutes

Molokai Channel: July 2012, 17 hours, 2 minutes

Catalina Channel: October 2012, 12 hours, 15 minutes

Tsugaru Channel: August 2013, 15 hours, 31 minutes

Cook Strait: April 2014, 8 hours, 36 minutes

North Channel: Still to come

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