A Slice of History: The Slippery Celebrity of Opononi

During the summer of 1955, in a small town in the far North Island called Opononi, a friendly bottlenose dolphin (affectionately named Opo) made waves. Enchanting residents and visitors alike with her quirky personality, she was first noticed by fishermen because of her fondness of being rubbed and scratched with boat oars and deck mops.

Opo became so comfortable with the fisherman that she would come swimming out to say hello at the sound of a boats motor! She began following familiar boats on their way back home, until one day, she swam up to the shore line and started to play with the local beachgoers. This continued for almost every day of that summer.

Opo especially liked playing with children and would swim around with them and even letting some of them be pulled along the water on her back. Opo even began to learn new tricks, like bouncing and balancing beach balls on her nose. In New Zealand, there are lots of places you can swim with dolphins – but not all of them are as outgoing as Opo!