Daredevil Dolphins; as a Shark Moves in for the Kill, Diver Is Saved by Man's Best Friend of the Sea

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Byline: PAUL FIELD

STRUGGLING with a shark in the Red Sea, a British tourist believed his life was over.

But as the fearsome creature tore into Martin Richardson's flesh again and again, three dolphins moved in to save him.

The bottlenose dolphins, with whom he had been playing shortly before, encircled the wounded man, flapping their fins and tails to scare away the attacker.

Friends on a boat nearby had heard his screams and saw him tossed 4ft in the air as the shark bit into his stomach, shoulder and back, breaking a rib and puncturing a lung.

They went to the aid of the 28-year-old diving enthusiast and the dolphins continued to circle until he was hauled out of the water.

The friends, diving instructor Harry Hayward and boat owner Dani Hermon, applied tourniquets to stem massive bleeding from his wounds, then sped to a resort on the shore where a doctor gave him further first aid.

They then drove him to a military hospital 55 miles away where he was recovering last night.

Mr Richardson, from Colchester, who had been swimming with the dolphins off the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, said by phone from the hospital in El-Tur: `Something took a bite of my side. I started panicking. Then it took another chunk of my upper arm.'

He punched the shark in the face to try to keep it away. Although he was not then aware of the dolphins' action, which was reported by his friends, he knew `something kept that shark away'.

Oz Goffman, director of the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Centre, which monitors the area, said: `The three friends had spotted five bottlenose dolphins earlier and went to swim with them. Dani and Harry returned to the boat after a few minutes but Martin continued swimming with the dolphins.

`Suddenly the crew heard a terrible scream and Dani rushed to the side of the boat to see Martin thrown into the air.

`They realised he was being attacked by one or more sharks, perhaps of the great white species. …