A man who went swimming with bottlenose dolphins in Arkles Bay in New Zealand found himself in great danger Sunday afternoon when the current began pushing him farther out to sea.
Alistair Bain was on the shore taking photographs but didn’t think anything was amiss as he watched the man among the dolphins.
“After a few minutes he started yelling, but I thought he was just excited about the dolphins,” Bain told Stuff.co.nz. “Then some other people climbed out on the rocks, too, and they were all yelling, but again I thought they were all excited about the dolphins.”
Staff members from Whale Oil, a popular news blog in New Zealand, were also witnessing what was unfolding, and wrote about the incident on their blog.
“The water is very cold so as the minutes ticked by I became more and more concerned, particularly since he was drifting farther and farther out to sea pushed by the current in front of the point,” Juana Atkins of Whale Oil wrote. “I didn’t realize at that point that he was drunk.”
One of the swimmer’s friends held up a bottle of bourbon and yelled out, “Bro, if you drown it will be totally worth it.”
After 30 minutes in the cold water, the swimmer remained a distance away and his movements were slowing. By then, two policemen arrived on the scene, borrowed two kayaks from the Whale Oil staff and rowed out to save the man.
“When the police got to him they were just in time,” Atkins wrote. “He told them how tired he was. Another 10 minutes and he may have slipped under the water and not come back up.”
But the rescue didn’t go smoothly since the swimmer failed to follow instructions.
“He was told to hold on to the kayak so he could be pulled to shore, but he ended up tipping both police officers into the sea,” Atkins wrote. “Now there were three men in the water and soon there was a large dog that needed rescuing as well.”
The police eventually managed to bring the swimmer and the dog to shore where paramedics checked the swimmer for hypothermia. In photographs of the aftermath, he appeared to be OK.
“I understand his desire to swim with the dolphins, but I don’t think he realized how close to death he came,” Atkins wrote. “He owes the two cops his life.”
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