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    Funeral held for popular New Zealand dolphin


    by ODN


    Hundreds of people attended a funeral service for a bottlenose dolphin which befriended, and sometimes annoyed, swimmers at beaches on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island.

    The body of Moko the dolphin, contained in a blue coffin bedecked with flowers, was carried in a funeral procession through the seaside town of Whakatane before a public service in the town centre.

    For three years, the playful teenage dolphin was a familiar sight around the beaches of the east coast city of Gisborne, where he swam among beach-goers and stole balls and surfboards.

    Moko was also known for pushing surfers out to sea, even leaving one woman stranded on a sea buoy when he stole her surfboard.

    Moko's body was found a week ago on a beach on Matakana Island. His casket was kept overnight at a marae, or meeting house for local indigenous Maori, who had contested the right to determine how and where Moko should be buried.

    Sand from his gravesite will be exchanged with sand from the Mahia peninsula on the North Island, which local Maori say will convey his spirit to the mainland.