In June 1955, three bottlenose dolphins were observed by a local fisherman on the shores of Opononi. Spotting the dolphins by their dorsal fin, he believed the sea creatures to be sharks, so he pulled out his rifle and shot at them.
Two of the three dolphins were never seen again, believed to have died by the gunfire but one remained. It is believed that of the three dolphins in the pod, the two that died were the mother and sibling of the now only remaining bottlenose. The surviving dolphin was a friendly sort, and became a regular visitor to the bay, warming the hearts of all who met him.
As months passed, the dolphin stuck around the harbour. At first the bottlenose was, understandably, a little hesitant to get too close to the locals, in particular the fisherman. But slowly, the townsfolk won the trust of the bottlenose and he gradually ventured closer and closer to shore.
Locals became enamored with the ocean mammal, and they decided to name the dolphin, ‘Opononi Jack’, in reference to another famous NZ dolphin ‘Pelorus Jack’, but, as time went on, the gay dolphin at Opononi became more widely refered to as ‘Opo the friendly dolphin’.
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