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Volunteers spent several hours refloating a dolphin after it beached three times near Kaka Point on Tuesday.
Dave Fluerty, of Kaka Point, who helped with the third refloating, said a small pod of dolphins was sighted close to the shore on Tuesday afternoon.
One dolphin beached at the end of Wilsher Bay, and was refloated by tourists.
The dolphin beached again in Wilsher Bay, and was refloated a second time, before beaching again at Kaka Point.
It was believed to be a bottlenose dolphin about 2.5m long.
"It was a very strange event. I've never seen anything like this before. It was very calm; it seemed to know what we were doing," Mr Fluerty said.
Department of Conservation coastal ranger Jim Fyfe said Doc was told of the incident about 2pm on Tuesday.
It was unusual for bottlenose dolphins to be seen on the Otago coast, and even more unusual for one to become beached, he said.
"They're pretty good navigators."
• Doc says sea lions are using Kaka Point beaches and beach-goers should give them "space".