Taniwha – Water Spirits amongst Humans

Dolphins have fascinated humans during centuries, nowadays we are still mesmerized by them so we buy stuffed animals, stickers, T-shirts, caps, mugs and all sort of gadgets that might have the print or picture of a dolphin on it.

Imagine not having phones, access to television, never having seen a documentary of marine mammals and then suddenly one day being on a small wooden boat and when gazing at the horizon, finding these creatures looking back at you.

Ancient civilizations have explained what a dolphin is to their culture, here is a little story about what a dolphin represents to the Maori communities of New Zealand.

Believing dolphins to be “Taniwhas” Spirits amongst humans acting as messengers of news between islands in times of need or helping with navigation when encountering turbulent waters, Maori’s have respected dolphins for hundreds of years, believing each “Taniwha had a specific purpose.

Spiritualizing dolphins has always been a human response to these creatures. Wild animals are wild and belong to the wild, we understand nowadays that they are not Gods but rather intelligent creatures that depending on the species react very differently.

Regardless, History is an amazing tool that provides a beautiful idea of how different animals have been important in different cultures and learning every day about how Cetaceans were seen is always very interesting <3 .

So imagine our guests today, how excited they felt when seeing 3 different species of dolphins : Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis), Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) and the Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba). 


A Striped Dolphin leaping out of water with such strength translating into a 2 meter breach.


Wondering every single time what one thinks for the first time you see a dolphin and of course depending on the species and the action the dolphin is doing at that particular time, whether it is socializing, hunting, travelling…  How one feels when seeing them in the wild.

Effortlessly swimming alongside hundreds of individuals of the same species, the Common dolphin.


So all in all they might not be Gods but they are for sure Divine creatures 😉 .

Anaïs Builly

About Anaïs Builly

Anais Builly is Marine Biologist and Master of Biology, Ecology and Ecosystems, and of Bioproducts & Bioproduction of Marine Ecosystems, studied in France and South Africa. She is also Marine Wildlife Guide & Community Manager at TERRA AZUL. She is passionate about conservation of marine mammals, and loves being out in the ocean everyday.

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