A dolphin badly injured in a shark attack has been escorted by a mate into the care of human hands.
Nari sustained a hideous wound across his head and back, and when he went missing, wildlife experts feared he had died.
The 12-year-old dolphin failed to turn up for his ritual feeding off the coast of Queensland - but so did his older companion Echo.
Chunks of Nari's neck were literally bitten off as his flesh was torn right down to the muscle by the shark in these horrific injuries
Nari the dolphin suffered horrific injuries to his head and back and is being cared for by wildlife staff in Queensland
But after three days the pair turned up with the rest of the group.
Mr Trevor Long, a dolphin expert from Sea World on the Gold Coast, said: 'We didn't see Nari again until the third day, when he turned up with Echo at his side.
'Dolphins are highly social animals and they have an extremely strong bond. There is no reason to think other than that Echo stayed with Nari for a few days, waiting until Nari was well enough to make it back to the feeding area.
'The fact that Echo failed to show up when the injured Nari was also absent suggests they remained together further out to sea for a few days.'
Nari was looked after and helped to safety by his friend Echo, above
It has now also emerged that Echo's sympathy for Nari may stem from an incident in 1996 when Echo was himself attacked by a shark.
What has thrilled wildlife experts even more is the trust that Nari has appeared to put in the humans who were able to lift him without a struggle into a boat and take him to the mainland to be treated by vets.
'It was a pretty bumpy ride back to the shore, but Nari remained calm all the way,' said Mr Long. 'It was as if he was putting his trust in us.
'We were very concerned about him when he failed to turn up last week but he's in good hands now.
'The injury is quite severe - the bite went right through the skin, flesh and blubber down to the muscle and Nari's pretty sore.
Trainers work with Nari in the water
'We're going to cut out the large piece of flesh that has been ripped by the shark and treat him in a special quarantine pool at Sea World.
'Then it will be a case of the wound healing from the inside out.
We're got high hopes he'll recover and then we'll release him back into the wild where we're sure his friend Echo will be waiting for him.'
The pod of 13 wild dolphins come for a nightly hand-feeding ritual by wildlife officers and tourists who greet them each evening on the coast of Moreton Island, near Brisbane.
Nari's terrible injury was first noticed on Friday when he showed up for the feed.
Wildlife officials who were with tourists tossing small fish to them were horrified to see the wound, which bore all the marks of a ferocious shark attack.
It is unclear what species of shark was responsible but the nature of the wound suggested that after taking an initial bite into Nari's head, the shark then gnawed at the wound to try and tear off the flesh.
Daily mail reporting is consistently some of the worst journalistic writing I ever read. The number of anthropomorphisms and ridiculous over-emotional adjectives in here is simply too much! LoL
But it's still cool that the dolphin was saved, or maybe even that is a premature statement.
Yeah..... It was a great that they saved the dolphin.
All respect for the protection of wildlife organizations.
thanks for posting Sydni.