CAIRO, Egypt -- Martin Richardson went for a swim among dolphins but found they were much more than gentle playmates. They can be lifesavers.
Mr. Richardson, a Briton, was swimming in the Red Sea off Egypt's Sinai Peninsula when he was attacked by a shark. Companions aboard a diving boat heard him scream.
"Something took a bite of my side," Mr. Richardson, a 29-year-old diver, told The Associated Press by telephone from el-Tur on Wednesday. "I started panicking for a bit, then it took another chunk of my upper arm."
Mr. Richardson's companions then watched as three bottlenose dolphins encircled the wounded man, flapping their fins and tails and scaring off the shark.
"This defensive behavior of dolphins is common when mothers are protecting their calves from predators," said a statement by the Recanati Center for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel.
The statement said the dolphins continued to circle for several minutes until Mr. Richardson's companions reached him.
The attack occurred Tuesday a half mile off Marsa Bareika at the tip of Sinai. Mr. Richardson was rushed to an Egyptian military hospital at el-Tur, 55 miles to the northwest.
Mr. Richardson, of Colchester, England, suffered bites in the left shoulder, stomach and back, including one that slightly punctured his lung, Dr. Emad Allam said by telephone from the hospital Wednesday.
Mr. Richardson can now "walk, talk and eat normally," Dr. Allam said, but will remain hospitalized for at least a week.
New Standard 7/26/96