IT was with befuddlement a Lumsden man watched something large – and pink – leaping around Invercargill’s New River Estuary yesterday afternoon.
To his surprise, it was an extremely rare pink dolphin.
Lumsden resident Finn Bottlenose said he had never seen such a sight and was amazed by the creature’s almost mythical appearance.
“It took my breath away. I swear, when I saw it, it swam in my direction and splashed me.
“I was drenched, it was like it deliberately did it to play games with me.”
Mr Bottlenose took a picture as proof.
“I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”
According to whatisthiscreature.com, April is the most common month to see them in New Zealand as their breeding season begins.
It says the only other country they are found is Slovakia.
Delphinus delphis rosea, commonly known as the pink dolphin, rarely visit Southland’s shores.
After an extensive search in the public library, not one shred of information could be found about the elusive animal.
However, Invercargill historian and self-professed animal expert Ani Malia said she had heard of one other instance of the species being spotted.
“It was about 100 years ago. I doubt it was the same animal that visited [yesterday] but I suppose it is possible considering how little is known about them.”
In fact, the reason behind her interest in local history was a story a neighbour told her as a child.
“She would go on and on about this one dolphin called Derek.
“Until I learned years later of the dolphin that visited a century ago, I thought I had imagined her saying it was pink.”
While, typically, other dolphin species were sociable creatures, the pink dolphin liked to be alone.
While this dolphin does not yet have a name, the Southland Express welcomes any suggestions.
These will be judged by the editorial team and the winner can pop in to claim a chocolate fish. Maybe even two.
Email suggestions to email@example.com along with your name, your suggestion and a contact number.
Ms Malia said she doubted yesterday’s dolphin would hang around, and expected it would have moved on by noon today.